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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

by assint published Mar 21, 2016 08:00 AM, last modified May 10, 2016 05:58 PM




The Organization

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – UNCTAD was established in 1964 as a result of the demands of the least developed countries, aiming at establishing a permanent international forum with a focus on development.

UNCTAD is the main body of the United Nations System for the joint discussion on trade and development, and also for themes related to the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. Is a permanent intergovernmental forum subsidiary of the United Nations General Assembly. 

Its various meetings, researches and technical cooperation programs aim at assisting developing countries to a more positive integration into the world economy.

The organization is structured as follows:

  • UNCTAD Conference: the highest decision-making body, responsible for the management of the Organization, the establishment of the four-year Work Programme, and for the discussion of current issues on trade and development.
  • Trade and Development Board
  • Commissions subordinated to the Board and supported by the Group of Experts, such as Trade and Development; Investment, Enterprise and Development; Science and Technology for Development (ECOSOC).


The work of UNCTAD in the field of competition policy began in the 1970s, when developing countries advocated for discussions on Control of Restrictive Business Practices (RBP).

Those demands resulted in negotiations of a multilateral code of conduct for Restrictive Business Practices, and the adoption by United Nations General Assembly, in 1980, of a Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices – RBP Set.

To monitor and review the implementation work of the Multilateral Agreements’ series UNCTAD created two institutional bodies:

  • The Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy, which holds annual forums for consultations, discussions and exchanges of views between States regarding RBP Series, and also has the attribution of produce studies and periodic surveys on competition policy; and
  • The United Nations Conferences for the Review of the Set, which revise the RBP Set, and are held every five years.  The last Review Conference took place in Geneva, on July 2015.