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What has Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries Achieved

The Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) was held between 5–9 March 2023 in Doha, Qatar, to mobilize the international community’s commitments towards the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action for the LDCs (2022-2031) adopted by the UN General Assembly in April 2022. It brought together around 5,000 participants — including 47 Heads of State and Government, officials of intergovernmental organizations, representatives of civil society organizations and other stakeholders — under the theme “From Potential to Prosperity.”

The poorest and most vulnerable economies

The 46 least developed countries (LDCs) comprise about 14% of the global population. They are some of the poorest and most vulnerable economies in the world. They also account for only 1.3% of the global gross domestic product, receive just 1.4% of total foreign direct investment and trade under 1% of world merchandise exports. The economic gap between LDCs and the rest of the world has been increasing. GDP per capita for the LDC group represented 15 percent of the world average in 1971, but by 2019 this had declined to less than 10 percent.

Least Developed Countries Remain Marginalized

The conference concluded with world leaders adopting a Political Declaration that welcomed the Doha Programme of Action and strongly committed to its implementation throughout the coming decade. Through the Declaration, Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives participating in the Conference recognized that despite some positive results, progress fell short of the goals and targets set out in the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020.  They noted with concern that the least developed countries remain marginalized in the world economy and committed to advancing the concrete deliverables outlined in the Doha Programme of Action.  These include exploring the feasibility of a system of stockholding, an online university, an international investment support centre and a sustainable graduation support facility.

Mobilization of the UN System

The Declaration also requested the Secretary-General to ensure the full mobilization and coordination of all parts of the United Nations system to facilitate coordinated implementation of the Doha Programme of Action and expressed appreciation to the Government of Qatar for hosting the second part of the Conference in an excellent manner.

Recovery, Renewal and Resilience

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, observed in closing that the Doha Programme of Action represents a clear blueprint for recovery, renewal and resilience in the world’s most vulnerable countries.  “But success is not automatic,” she stressed, noting the importance of massive, directed financing. 


Echoing those words, Rabab Fatima, Secretary-General of the Conference and Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States noted the adoption of the Doha Political Declaration by consensus.  Reflecting on how to translate the momentum created by the Conference into practical outcomes, she said that two words repeatedly uttered in Doha stand out above all others — “partnership” and “graduation.”  She stressed that the international community must make sustainable graduation a reality for all least-developed countries, calling for more meaningful partnerships towards that end going forward.

The Conference also heard summaries of discussions from stakeholder forums that took place on the margins of the Conference. In other business, the Conference adopted the resolution titled “Credentials of Representatives to the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries” (document A/CONF.219/2023/2) and accepted the additional credentials from Angola, Brazil and Japan. The Conference also adopted its report and authorized the Rapporteur-General to finalize the document in conformity with the practice of the United Nations.

The Conference has renewed the international community’s unflinching commitment toward the world’s least developing countries through the realization of the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action for the LDCs and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Source: United Nations

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