The third edition of the ‘Handbook on the Least Developed Country Category: Inclusion, Graduation and Special Support Measures’ was prepared by DESA in collaboration with the CDP.
It comprises chapters on: criteria and procedures for inclusion and graduation; international support measures for the LDCs; and indicators, methods and data sources for the LDC criteria.
Per the handbook, the CDP is undertaking a comprehensive review of the LDC criteria during 2017-2020, “taking into account all aspects of the evolving international development context, including relevant agendas”.
27 November 2018: The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has launched the third edition of its handbook on the least developed country (LDC) category. The handbook reflects on recent developments, including refinements to the LDC criteria and progress made by several countries towards graduation from the category.
The ‘Handbook on the Least Developed Country Category: Inclusion, Graduation and Special Support Measures’ was launched at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 27 November 2018. Authored by DESA in collaboration with the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP), it includes chapters on: criteria and procedures for inclusion and graduation; international support measures for the LDCs (such as measures related to trade, development assistance and support to participation in international forums); and indicators, methods and data sources for the LDC criteria. It updates the previous edition of the handbook, which was published in 2015.
According to the UN, LDCs are countries characterized by low levels of income and severe structural impediments to sustainable development. The LDC category was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 1971 to acknowledge that special support measures are needed to assist the least developed among the developing countries.
The CDP is undertaking a comprehensive review of the LDC criteria, taking “relevant agendas” into account.
Decisions on inclusion into and graduation from the list of LDCs are made by the UNGA, based on recommendations by the CDP, endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The CDP, a subsidiary advisory body of ECOSOC and composed of 24 members, analyzes the list of LDCs every three years during “triennial reviews” of the LDC category to identify any countries that may qualify for inclusion into or graduation from the LDC category. To this end, it uses specific procedures and criteria, such as gross national income per capita, the human assets index, and the economic vulnerability index. The handbook indicates that in response to a request by the UNGA, the CDP is undertaking a comprehensive review of the LDC criteria during 2017-2020, “taking into account all aspects of the evolving international development context, including relevant agendas.”
According to the handbook, the initial list of LDCs, as proposed by the Committee for Development Planning (the predecessor of the CDP) and endorsed by the UNGA in 1971, included Afghanistan, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Yemen. Throughout the years, 28 countries were added, as countries gained independence and faced severe developmental challenges, namely: Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Gambia (1975); Cabo Verde, Comoros (1977); Guinea-Bissau (1981); Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Togo (1982); Vanuatu (1985); Kiribati, Mauritania, Tuvalu (1986); Myanmar (1987); Mozambique (1988); Liberia (1990); Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, Zambia (1991); Angola, Eritrea (1994); Senegal (2000); Timor-Leste (2003); and South Sudan (2012).
As of 2018, 47 countries are included in the category, as five countries have graduated: Botswana, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, the Maldives, and Samoa. Vanuatu and Angola are scheduled for graduation in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The handbook reports that countries currently in the LDC category comprise approximately 13% of the world’s population, but account for less than 1.3% of world gross domestic product (GDP) and for approximately 0.9% of world trade.
The handbook is expected to be updated on a regular basis to reflect relevant developments, including the outcome of the triennial reviews of the list of the LDCs. [Publication: Handbook on the Least Developed Country Category: Inclusion, Graduation and Special Support Measures] [DESA Press Release on Handbook] [CDP Website]