United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

The twelfth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development ("UNCTAD XII") will take place from 20 to 25 April in Ghana, Africa. African issues stand high on the agenda for the conference.

During the conference's high-level segment, "Trade and development for Africa's prosperity: action and direction", heads of state and government will focus discussions on the trade and development needs of African countries and measures necessary for African countries to benefit more from globalization. This debate, to be chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and moderated by UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, aims to strengthen the international community's engagement in promoting development friendly trade and economic growth in Africa. This should include considering new commitments and initiatives as well as supporting existing ones. Despite relatively strong economic growth rates in recent years, Africa is still far from reaching the most prominent of the Millennium Development goals – halving poverty by 2015.

Africa will also feature prominently at the World Investment Forum, where corporate leaders, ministers, senior officials and experts will discuss Africa as a new emerging market for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the lessons to be drawn from increasing collaboration between transnational corporations and African countries.

A workshop on development strategies in Africa on 19 April in Accra will bring together renowned African economists to reflect on lessons from the past and ways forward. Fifty years after many countries ended colonial rule, why did the dream of economic development and prosperity fail so spectacularly?  How can Africa reinvent itself?

Economic progress in the 33 African least developed countries (LDCs) was discussed at a high-level workshop for LDCs in Africa, organized by the Turkish government on 4-5 March in Izmir. Ministers and Geneva-based ambassadors, along with representatives of relevant international organizations, also considered the obstacles facing these countries. The situation in world's 49 LDCs, a category established by the United Nations, is the subject of UNCTAD's annual Least Developed Countries Report.

A Civil Society Forum will meet in plenary prior to the official opening of UNCTAD XII, to exchange information, build consensus and finalize the civil society position document to the Conference. A draft Civil Society declaration has recently been circulated, expressing sharp criticism of the consequences of globalization for the poor countries of the world. In the words of the drafters of the civil society declaration, “The era of Globalization is proving to be the era of the most intense inequalities that humanity has ever known”.
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