Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs (UNLDC-V)

In December 2018 the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/73/242 whereby it decided to convene the Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs in 2021 when the international community is expected to make a comprehensive appraisal of the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA) and agree on a strengthened partnership framework in support of the poorest and most vulnerable member states. The new 10-year programme of action for the LDCs will be adopted at a critical time, as it will coincide with the last 10 years of implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Conference will also mark the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the LDC category.

The conference is to be preceded by country level, regional and global substantive reviews, involving all major IPoA stakeholders. The outcomes of these inclusive and broad-based reviews of all IPoA priorities will feed into the work of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee, which will meet twice, toward the end of 2020 and early 2021, to agree on elements of the new programme of action for the LDCs that will then be finalized and adopted by the Fifth Conference.

The General Assembly decided that the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) would be the focal point for the preparations of the Conference. Other United Nations system organizations, as well as the World Bank and IMF, the World Trade Organization and other relevant international and regional organizations, were also invited to provide support to the preparatory process and to the Conference itself. Furthermore, the General Assembly called on Resident Coordinators and country teams to be fully involved especially in the country and regional level preparations for the Conference.

The mandate of the Conference is as follows:

  • To undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action by the least developed countries and their development partners, share best practices and lessons learned, and identify obstacles and constraints encountered as well as actions and initiatives needed to overcome them;
  • To identify effective international and domestic policies in the light of the outcome of the appraisal as well as new and emerging challenges and opportunities and the means to address them;
  • To reaffirm the global commitment to address the special needs of the least developed countries made at the major UN conferences and summits, including the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework:
  • To mobilize additional international support measures and action, in addition to domestic resources, in favour of the least developed countries and, in this regard, formulate and adopt a renewed partnership between the least developed countries and their development partners, including the private sector, civil society and governments at all levels.

The decision of the General Assembly represents the will of the international community to continue to place support for the group of poorest and most vulnerable countries at the top of the international agenda.  The decision must be seen against the backdrop of almost 4 decades of efforts by the international community to address the particular needs of the least developed countries. The previous four UN Conferences on LDCs were held in Paris (twice), Belgium (sponsored by EU) and Turkey. These Conferences drew broad participation from all LDC stakeholders.

Intergovernmental process leading up to the Conference

The General Assembly, in its resolution 73/242 of December 2018, took the following decisions about the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs:

  • The Conference will be held for a duration of not more than five days in 2021;
  • There will be two Preparatory Committee Meetings for a duration of no more than five days each in 2020/2021;
  • Two regional review meetings will be held for a duration of no longer than 3 days each;
  • There will be country level preparations and the UN System is encouraged to provide necessary support and to contribute actively to the preparatory process and the Conference itself;
  • OHRLLS has been designated as the focal point for the preparations of the Conference;

Preparatory Process

Road map: LDC-V Preparatory Process

The Conference is expected to undertake a comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the IPoA in each LDC, as well as at the sub-regional, regional and national levels. It will also share best practices, lessons learned and constraints encountered and come up with a comprehensive 10-year strategy for enabling LDCs to graduate from the category and meet the SDGs, building on a solid foundation of national ownership and leadership and a reinvigorated global partnership for LDCs’ sustainable development.

At the national level, all LDCs are expected to report on the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action in their country. Guidelines for the preparation of these national reports have been prepared by OHRLLS and provided to all LDCs. The main findings from the national reports will feed into the regional reviews and finally into the new Programme of Action. The reports should be result-oriented, analytical and forward looking and include views of government, local government representatives, civil society, the private sector and academia. The network of existing LDC National Focal Point will play a key role in the preparation of the national reports.

At the regional level, two preparatory review meetings are envisaged, one for Africa and one for the Asia-Pacific region involving LDCs and their development partners. These meetings are expected to take place during the first half of 2020.

At the 52nd session of the ECA Commission, in March 2019, the African Ministers adopted a decision in which they requested ECA, in collaboration with OHRLLS, to organize an African Regional Review Meeting in 2020, in preparation for the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs.

At the global level, in addition to the intergovernmental process described above, OHRLLS will organise consultative meetings for the Ambassadors of LDCs and Friends of LDCs in New York to find consensus on the new priorities. OHRLLS will also organise UN inter-agency meetings to prepare for the Conference.

UN Agencies and partner countries will organize Pre-Conference Events on thematic areas that are particularly important for LDCs to undertake thematic appraisals and outline possible strategies to make further progress in specific sectoral areas of importance for their sustainable development. 

Preparations at the national, sub-regional, regional, global levels and pre-conference events as well as contributions from the private sector, CSO and parliamentarians will provide evidence-based inputs for the outcome of the LDC V Conference.