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Categories of countries: Least Developed Countries


France co-sponsors an event on the place that should be given to vulnerable developing countries in the post 2015 development agenda (April 16th, 2013, New York)


This event offered delegates of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States the opportunity to meet UN officials, government officials, experts and advisers of the high-level panel on post-2015 to discuss their specific vulnerabilities and exchange views about how their needs should be best represented in the new development agenda.

Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy-Director of Development Strategies, Directorate-General of Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reminded the commitments of France towards the LDCs and its will to take into account their specific needs while defining the post-2015 development agenda.

She also stressed our will to consider the relevant elements endorsed at the Istanbul conference in the post-2015 reflection: resilience, knowledge sharing and technology transfers for instance were identified as of critical importance for the LDCs to ensure sustainability of the progress already made. The post-2015 development agenda should be designed to allow the adaptation of universal objectives to national and local realities.

Ms Broadhurst furthermore stressed the need to integrate the links and interactions between the three dimensions of sustainable development, economic development and poverty eradication as well as environmental challenges in the post-2015 agenda. Climate change, which was not covered in the MDGs, should be given a place in the post-2015 development agenda that is on par with its critical impact on the poorest countries, especially on the LDCs.

Nathalie Broadhurst and Gyan Acharya at the event organised jointly by the UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and Ferdi together with the French Government, the Government of Burkina Faso, OCDE and the LDC IV Monitor. - Photo franceonu / Caroline Fréchard

1. The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Retour à la table des matières

- The United Nations has defined the least developed countries as being “the poorest and weakest segment of the international community” . These countries are characterized not just by extensive poverty but also by the structural weakness of their economic, institutional and human resources, often exacerbated by geographical constraints.

- The list of LDCs originally included 25 countries. It now includes 49 countries:

- 34 in Africa (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, the Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia);

- 14 in Asia and the Pacific (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Yemen);

- and 1 country in the Caribbean (Haiti).

- The UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) uses the following criteria to identify the LDCs:

1 — An average income of less than $745 per person;

2 — Weak human resources, as measured by indicators of nutrition, mortality of children aged five years or under, secondary school enrolment, and adult literacy rate;

3 — High economic vulnerability, measured by population density, remoteness with respect to global markets; concentration of exports, share of agriculture in the GDP, instability of exports of goods and services and agricultural trade balance; and homelessness owing to natural disasters.

4 — A population less than 75 million inhabitants. The population is thus both a component of the economic vulnerability index and a criteria for a country to be considered as a LDC. This limitation does not apply to countries that were on the list before its introduction in 1991 by the CDP.

A country under consideration has to give its consent before its new status can be approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

- Since the establishment of the category in 1971, only three countries have graduated from the list: Botswana in 1994, Cape Verde in 2007, and the Maldives in January 2011. In 2011, South Sudan entered the LDC’s list. Samoa, Equatorial Guinea and Vanuatu are meanwhile awaiting a decision that should lead them to leave the group.

- The LDCs benefit from certain advantages aimed at improving their situation. These benefits relate to trade preferences, specific development financing mechanisms, including Official Development Assistance, debt relief, technical assistance and other forms of support. LDCs that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) also benefit from special and preferential treatment regarding WTO-related obligations.

- The largest donor of aid to the LDCs is the European Union. Over the last decade, the EU has almost doubled its aid, which increased from €7.5 billion in 2000 (i.e. 0.09% of EU GNI) to €13.5 billion in 2009 (0.12% of EU GNI). Donor commitment to increase development aid to LDCs up to between 0.15% and 0.2% of GNI was renewed in Istanbul in 2011.

At the time of the Brussels Conference in 2001, the EU committed to providing full duty-free, quota-free access to all imports from LDCs, a commitment that it has honored through the “Everything but Arms” scheme, which provides the LDCs duty-free and quota-free market access for 100% of products, except arms and ammunition. The EU provides more than 50% of overall aid for trade, contributing €2 billion per year with the aim of promoting the integration of the LDCs into world trade.

2. France’s position Retour à la table des matières

- France, which hosted the first two conferences on the LDCs, is attaches great importance to providing special and priority treatment to the LDCs. The characteristics of the LDCs justify focusing aid towards these countries and allocating aid based on their needs and not just on performance. ODA, in particular its most concessional component, should go to the poorest countries.

- LDCs are thus the main target of the French aid (29% of its ODA to 0.14% of GNI in 2011) and represent 16 of the 17 poorest countries France has identified as priority. France is the second donator within the G8, behind the United Kingdom, and its sectoral priorities, focusing on the MDGs (health, education, agriculture and food security) benefit these countries primarily.

- Within the framework of its presidency of the G8 and G20, France worked towards developing a comprehensive approach which, like the one adopted by the European Union, takes into account all of the development factors.

Within the G8, France pursues the commitments made in the areas of food security and health, and the in-depth dialogue on governance with Africa conducted within the framework of the Africa Partnership Forum.

Within the G20, it stresses, within the framework of the implementation of the Development Working Group’s agenda, the fundamental requirements for achieving the inclusive growth needed by the LDCs, for example regional integration, access to energy and infrastructures, development of the private sector, social welfare, responsible investment, improvement of the business environment and the fight against tax avoidance. By tackling the regulation of agricultural product prices, France will also make the fight against food insecurity, which impacts the LDCs in particular, a priority for its presidency.

- On 26 September 2011, at the meeting of the LDC group, Mr. Sujiro Seam, deputy director of food security and economic development in the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, reiterated the support of France to the action plan adopted at the Fourth Conference of LDCs held in Istanbul. He has stressed the need that the recommendations of the Action Plan are integrated into major international summits. He also remembered that graduation was a key objective of the Action Plan in Istanbul.

3. The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (9-13 May 2011) Retour à la table des matières

- The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) took place in Istanbul, Turkey, from 9 to 13 May 2011. It brought together over 2000 participants. On the sidelines of the plenary session, parallel events were organised for interactive discussions between governments, civil society and the private sector.

The Minister for Cooperation, Mr Henry Raincourt, led the French delegation. He also co-chaired a side event organized by France, Mali and the United Nations on innovative financing, additional sources of funding for development aid.

The Istanbul Conference adopted a ten year action plan that stresses the need to help LDCs to overcome their structural weaknesses in order to create a sustainable and inclusive growth and, thus, promote their development. This action plan recognizes the specific responsibility of LDCs’ partners in terms of development cooperation but also of public aid and aid for trade. A political declaration recalling the common values and principles promoted by the international community for the development of LDCs was also adopted.

Resolutions 63/227 and 64/213 of the General Assembly which set the groundwork for the Instanbul Conference stated that the purpose of the Conference was to evaluate the implementation of the Brussels Program of Action, identify the effective international and national policies, reaffirm the commitment made by the international community with respect to the LDCs and to develop revitalized partnerships between these countries and their development partners.


- The United Nations General Assembly convened the First United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Paris in 1981 in order to respond to the particular needs of the LDCs. It convened the Second United Nations Conference in 1990, again in Paris. The results of the latter were incorporated into the “Paris Declaration” and the Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade of 1991-2000.

The Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries which took place in Brussels in May 2001 resulted in the Brussels Program of Action. This text defines the measures to be implemented by the LDCs and their development partners. The goal of the Program (which spanned over a period of 10 years) involved reducing extreme poverty and chronic hunger through targeted measures in 7 interconnected areas: fostering a people-centered policy framework, promoting good governance at national and international levels, building human and institutional capacities, building productive capacities to help the LDCs derive greater benefit from global trade, enhancing the role of trade in development, reducing vulnerability and protecting the environment, and mobilizing financial resources.

4. LDCs in development agenda post-2015 Retour à la table des matières

France considers that the LDC group is more relevant than ever and deserves special attention from the international community. It thus would ensure that their needs and interests are taken into account in the various UN processes to define the development agenda post-2015.

France is in favor of a universal agenda that would overcome the North / South divide and thinks that it is essential that all countries should take part in a more sustainable development. However it also considers that this should not undermine the priority of international solidarity for LDCs.

France believes that the involvement of these countries in favor of sustainable development will be essential to achieve and develop an ambitious and transformational agenda. These countries are those who suffer most from climate change and experience more than others the interconnections of economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. Also, in order to better integrate their issues into the debates convened within the United Nations, France is actively involved in the dialogue with the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States.

In the development agenda post-2015, France co-sponsored an event on countries in vulnerable development (16 April 2013, New York).

This event gave the Permanent Representatives of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS the opportunity to meet senior UN officials, official representatives of governments, experts and advisers to members of the High Level Group on the post-2015 agenda, to discuss issues related to specific vulnerabilities faced by these countries and how the new partnership for development should address them.

Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy Director of Development Strategies, Directorate General of Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, has reiterated the commitment of France to the LDCs and its willingness to take into account their special needs in the elaboration of the post-2015 framework. She emphasized our desire to integrate into the post-2015 agenda relevant items endorsed at the Istanbul conference : themes of resilience, knowledge sharing and technology transfer for example were central to prevent the most vulnerable countries from loosing progresses that had been made. The framework for post-2015 development agenda should be elaborated in a manner that allows the adaptation of universal goals to national and local realities.

Mrs. Broadhurst stressed the importance of including in the post-2015 agenda the links and interactions between the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic development, poverty eradication and environmental challenges. Climate change, absent in the MDG framework, would be crucial in the post-2015 agenda, in terms of its impact on the poorest countries, especially LDCs. It was necessary to think about how to respond to damages and establish appropriate fundings.


(June 2013)

4. French Statements in New York Retour à la table des matières

- 27 June 2013 - Defining post-2015 framework for sustainable development with people in extreme poverty - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 10 January 2011 - 1st session of the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries - Speech delivered by Mrs. Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy Director, Directorate-General for Globalization, Development and Partnerships, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

5. Reference documents Retour à la table des matières

- 14 August 2012 – Appointment of the Ambassador of Nepal, Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharyato the United Nations as his top aide dealing with some of the world’s most vulnerable countries

- May 2011 - Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020

- 17 March 2010 - Resolution 64/213 - Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries

- 10 March 2009 - Resolution 63/227 - Implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001–2010

- September 2001 - The Brussels Declaration and the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010

- September 1990 - Paris Declaration

- LDCs Handbook

6. Useful links Retour à la table des matières

- Official website of Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV)

- UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States website

- The Committee for Development Policy website



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