Technical Cooperation Programs

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The International Development Strategy for the third UN Development Decade called for a renewed emphasis on technical cooperation and a significant increase in the resources provided for this purpose. It recognized that technical cooperation contributes to the efforts of developing countries to achieve self-reliance by facilitating and supporting investment, research, and training, among other things.

UN programs of technical cooperation may be grouped in three categories: (1) the UN regular program, financed under the portion of the UN regular budget set aside for technical cooperation activities; (2) activities funded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and (3) extrabudgetary activities financed by contributions provided directly to the executing agencies by multilateral funding organizations within or outside the UN system, other than UNDP, and by contributions from governments and nongovernmental organizations.

To consolidate the responsibilities and resources within the UN Secretariat in support of technical cooperation activities, the UN General Assembly in March 1978 set up the Department of Technical Cooperation for Development (DTCD). In 1993, under further restructuring of the United Nations, this became the Department for Development Support and Management Services (DDSMS).

DDSMS provided technical and managerial support and advisory services to member states of the UN, relevant research, and parliamentary services to expert groups and intergovernmental bodies. It had a twofold mandate: (i) to act as an executing agency for programs and projects relating to institution-building and human resource development in areas such as development policies and planning, natural resources and energy planning, governance and public management, and financial management and accounting; (ii) to act as a focal point for the provision of management services and implementation functions for technical cooperation.

In 1997 DDSMS was merged with the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and the Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis to form the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). DESA provides policy analysis and facilitates international dialogue on development issues in the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and the specialized inter-governmental bodies reporting to them. It also provides technical assistance to member states at the national and sub-regional level. DESA's staff researches and analyses a broad range of economic and social data and information on development issues and trends. It also advises and supports countries in implementing their development strategies, with the aim being to help build national capacities as well as to strengthen economic and technical links among developing countries.


Since its earliest days, the UN system has been engaged in a growing effort that has two main thrusts. The first, and most important, is supporting the vigorous drive of the world's developing countries to provide their own people with the essentials of a decent lifeincluding adequate nutrition, housing, employment, income, education, health care, consumer goods, and public services. The second aim, which is closely related, is to help these countries increase their output of commodities, raw materials, and manufactured items, which the world increasingly needs, as well as to ensure them a fair return.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN's major armand the world's largest channelfor international technical cooperation for development provided on a grant basis. Working with the government of nearly every countryand with more than 30 international agenciesUNDP supports the development efforts of 166 countries and territories in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Arab states, and Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Under the overall framework of "sustainable human development," the programs it supports focus primarily on building national capacities to eliminate poverty, protect and regenerate the environment, create employment, and empower women. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of human life.

Evolution of UNDP

Although UNDP came into formal existence only in January 1966, it really began 20 years earlier, for it grew out of two long-established UN institutions.

In 1948, the UN General Assembly (GA) had decided to appropriate funds under its regular budget to enable the UN Secretary-General to supply teams of experts, offer fellowships, and organize seminars to assist national development projects at the request of governments. About the same time, many of the specialized agencies had begun to undertake similar projects. However, no sooner had the Regular Programs of Technical Assistance, as they were called, begun to operate than it became apparent that the money that could be spared from the regular budget would not meet demand. In 1949, the General Assembly set up a separate account for voluntary contributions toward technical assistance and decided to make it a central account to finance the activities not only of the UN itself but also of the specialized agencies. Machinery was established for distributing financial resources and coordinating projects, and the whole enterprise was called the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA), to distinguish it from the UN's technical assistance financed under the regular budget. The venture proved remarkably successful. Ten years after it had begun operations, EPTA was financing technical assistance in some 140 countries and territories. Between 1950 and 1960, the number of governments contributing funds had grown from 54 to 85, and the total annual contributions had risen from $10 million to $33.8 million.

In 1958, the General Assembly felt that it would be desirable to broaden the scope of UN technical assistance to include large-scale preinvestment surveys and feasibility studies on major national development projects that would lay the groundwork for subsequent investment of capital. These surveys and studies involved a much greater financial outlay than the kind of technical assistance then being undertaken, and the General Assembly decided to set up a new institution that would be run along lines similar to those of EPTA. Thus, the Special Fund was established to act as a multilateral channel for voluntary contributions to preinvestment projects, and as a coordinating center for the work of the various UN agencies. The Special Fund began operations in 1959; within three years, 86 governments had pledged over $110 million.

In January 1964, the Secretary-General formally proposed to the Economic and Social Council that EPTA and the Special Fund be merged into a single enterprise. The advantages to be derived from the merger were a pooling of resources, a simplification of procedures, improvement in overall planning, elimination of duplication, reduction in administrative costs, and a general strengthening of UN development aid. By August 1964, the Council had adopted recommendations for the merger, but because of the stalemate at the 1964 General Assembly, no action could be taken until the following year. On 22 November 1965, the General Assembly unanimously voted to consolidate the two operations, effective 1 January 1966, as the United Nations Development Programme.

Structure and Organization

Administrator and Executive Board.

UNDP is headed by an administrator, appointed by the UN Secretary-General and confirmed by the General Assembly, who is responsible to a 36-nation Executive Board for all aspects of program operations. The boardrepresenting every geographical region and both contributor and program countriesreports to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council. In addition to setting overall policy guidelines, the Executive Board examines and approves the volume of assistance allocated to each country over successive five-year cycles and must similarly approve all country programs. (The Executive Board began its work in 1994, replacing the 48-nation UNDP/UNFPA Governing Council, which had a similar composition and function. The Governing Council's decision-making almost always took place by "consensus" rather than by recorded voting.)

Regional Bureaus.

Regional bureaus, located at UN headquarters, cover Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Arab states. There is also a Division for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. These offices serve as the administrator's principal links with the program countries. Together with bureaus or divisions for strategic planning, program policy and evaluation, program development and support, and finance and administration, they furnish UNDP's country-based Resident Representatives with day-to-day operational support.

Resident Representatives.

Resident Representatives heading more than 140 program country offices function as field-level leaders of the UN development system. They are responsible for seeing that UNDP-assisted country programs are carried out effectively and efficiently. They act as chief liaison officers between government planning authorities and the executing agencies, help blueprint all activities from formulation to follow-up, and are responsible for ensuring that personnel, equipment, and facilities are utilized to best advantage.

Resident Representatives and other staff in UNDP's country offices also perform a variety of non-project-related development activities that make a significant contribution to UNDP's goals, and to the needs of its national partners. These include engaging in policy dialogue with national officials and providing them with development planning advice; furnishing technical advisory and general problem-solving services, often at the request of concerned sectoral ministries; assisting in mobilizing investment from both internal and external sources, as well as with follow-up investment advice and services; acting as a focal point for government needs in emergencies caused by natural or man-made disasters; assisting in the formulation, management, and evaluation of UNDP country programs; and, upon request, participating in the coordination of external assistance from other sources and in the preparation of well-balanced, effective national development programs.

Training and other support is offered on issues of special concern: UNDP's Division for Gender in Development helps to ensure that programs consider women's needs and interests; the Division for Nongovernmental Organizations promotes increased participation of NGOs and community groups in development activities; the Environment and Natural Resources Group ensures that the environmental impact of all programs is weighed; the Short-Term Advisory Services program sends skilled advisers to provide top-level technical and managerial advice in such sectors as agriculture, transportation, and industry.

Functions and Guiding Principles

The nature of UNDP and its activities has changed over the years. In part, this has been in response to the evolving requirements and interests of the program countries. The changes also have reflected global concerns for particular development problems and issues.

In the early 1970s, UNDP had to demonstrate its ability to replace a basic structure, which had served it well in its formative stages, with a "second generation" mechanism designed to determine the nature of UNDP's market with greater discrimination, and to deliver the required product with more efficiency. The cumulative impact of a number of intensive inquiries into development and development assistanceby the Pearson Commission, the UN Committee for Development Planning, Sir Robert Jackson's study of the capacity of the UN development system, and by some of the major donor countries individuallyhelped to fashion a new look for UNDP. The various studies agreed on needs for more deliberate matching of country requests for assistance with available resources; the introduction of forward and coordinated planning and programming; more careful and appropriate project design; and greater quality, timeliness, and efficiency of implementation.

The consideration of these matters by the UNDP Governing Council in 1970 produced a consensus on the future of UNDP that was endorsed by the General Assembly in the same year, translated into organizational and procedural changes in 1971, and brought substantially into effect during the next few years. The pivotal change was the introduction of "country programming." This involved the forward programming of UNDP assistance at the country level for periods of up to five years, identification of the role UNDP inputs would play in specified areas related to a country's development objectives, and the phasing of these inputs. Country programming, together with a similar approach to regional, interregional, and global activities, is designed to achieve the most rational and efficient utilization of resources.

A necessary counterpart to the introduction of UNDP country programming was administrative reform. The most important change involved decentralizationa substantial shift of power and responsibility for effective UNDP technical cooperation at all stages away from headquarters and into the program countries, where the UNDP Resident Representatives often play a lead role in UN development system activities within a country. Guidelines for the selection of these officials imply that, first and foremost, they should be effective managers, for it is they who cooperate directly with the governments to ensure the smooth functioning of development programs. In addition, they must intervene to help ensure more efficient implementation and more effective use of the results of project assistance. Upon request, they must be ready to play a vital part in the coordination of assistance from other sources with that provided by UNDP. In fact, under the restructuring of the UN development system mandated by the General Assembly, most UNDP Resident Representatives also are designated by the UN Secretary-General as Resident Coordinators of all UN operational assistance for development.

In 1975, UNDP further revised its programming principles to include "new dimensions" in technical cooperation, designed primarily to foster greater self-sufficiency among developing countries by relying more heavily on their own skills and expertise for development activities. Accordingly, UNDP redefined its role in technical cooperation to stress results achieved, rather than inputs required from the industrialized nations.

Seen from this perspective, the purpose of technical cooperation is to promote increasing autonomy with regard to the managerial, technical, administrative, and research capabilities required to formulate and implement development plans in the light of options available.

In the 1990s, UNDP made other changes that had a substantial impact on its programming, as well as on development thinking in general. In 1990 the Governing Council directed UNDP to focus its activities on six themes: poverty eradication and grass roots participation; environment and natural resources management; technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC); management development; transfer and adaptation of technology; and women in development. UNDP has also adopted a "program approach," whereby funding is provided for comprehensive programs with integrated components rather than distinct, separate projects. This enables UNDP to deliver assistance that is more focused and has greater impact and sustainability.

Another change has been UNDP's promotion of "human development," which puts people at the center of development, enlarging their choices and creating opportunities through which they can realize their potential and express their creativity. Human development does not measure a country's progress solely by its Gross National Product, but takes into account such factors as its people's access to health services, level of education, and purchasing power. Since 1990 UNDP has stimulated debate about this concept through the publication of an annual Human Development Report, written by an independent team of development specialists and published by Oxford University Press. Since then, a growing number of countries have received UNDP assistance in incorporating human development concerns into planning and the allocation of budgets.

Linking human development with its traditional emphasis on building self-reliance, UNDP has now embraced the concept of "sustainable human development" as the guiding principle underlying all its work. As defined by UNDP's administrator, James Gustave Speth, who took office in July 1993:

"Sustainable human development is development that not only generates economic growth but distributes its benefits equitably; that regenerates the environment rather than destroying it; that empowers people rather than marginalizing them. It gives priority to the poor, enlarging their choices and opportunities and providing for their participation in decisions affecting them. It is development that is pro-poor, pro-nature, pro-jobs and pro-women. In sum, sustainable human development stresses growth, but growth with employment, environment, empowerment and equity."

Within this framework, UNDP identified three priority goals: (1) strengthening international cooperation for sustainable human development and serving as a substantive resource on how to achieve it; (2) building developing countries' capacities for sustainable human development; and (3) helping the United Nations become a powerful, unified force for sustainable human development.

With the creation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, the UNDP allows itself to be guided by the UN Core Strategy on MDGs and focuses on:

  • Campaigning and mobilization: Supporting advocacy for the MDGs and working with partners to mobilize the commitments and capabilities of broad segments of society to build awareness on the MDGs;
  • Analysis: Researching and sharing best strategies for meeting the MDGs in terms of innovative practices, policy and institutional reforms, means of policy implementation, and evaluation of financing options;
  • Monitoring: Helping countries report advancement towards the MDGs and track progress;
  • Operational activities: Goal-driven assistance to support governments to tailor MDGs to local circumstances and challenges; address key constraints to progress on the MDGs.

From its inception, UNDP has been called upon to make its assistance available to all countries where it can be effective in helping to meet priority needs, provided that those countries are members of the UN or one of its affiliated agencies. This broad frame of reference is essential for protecting two of UNDP's most valuable assetsits universality and its large measure of freedom from political problems and pressures.

Planning and Programming

In the planning and programming of UNDP assistance, the largest role is played by the developing countries themselves. The process involves three basic steps.

First, an estimate is made of the core financial resources expected to be available to UNDP over a five-year period. This estimate is then divided up into Indicative Planning Figures (IPFs) for each country assisted, and for regional, interregional, and global programs. The IPFs are approved, and adjusted from time to time, by UNDP's Executive Board.

Second, with its IPF as a guide, each government draws up a "country program," outlining its priorities for UNDP assistance and allocating its share of UNDP resources among those priorities. Country program formulationin which the UNDP's Resident Representative and locally based officials of other UN agencies usually participatetakes a number of factors into account. Among these are a country's overall development plans, the domestic resources that it can call upon for carrying out those plans, and the assistance expected from external sources other than UNDP. Each country program is then submitted to the Executive Board for approval.

The third step involves preparation of individual project requestsagain usually in consultation with advisers from the UN system. These requests delineate each project's main objectives, its duration, its cost, and the respective responsibilities of the government and the UN system.

Allocation of Funds

UNDP IPFs for 197276, the first programming cycle, were largely determined by applying the same percentage of total UNDP resources actually committed to each country from 1967 through 1971 to the total of projected UNDP resources for the years 1972 through 1976.

Completely new criteria were established by the Governing Council for the 197781 "second cycle." Of the country programming resources expected to be available during those years, 92.5% was allocated largely on the basis of a formula involving each country's population and its per capita gross national product (GNP)with this second factor being given somewhat greater weight in calculating each country's allocation.

Under the new criteria, about 13% of total resources was devoted to regional programs aimed at fostering development cooperation among neighboring countries or at achieving economies by making expertise available to several governments from a single regional base. There was also a separate IPF for global and interregional programs, such as "breakthrough" research on high-yielding strains of staple food grains.

On an overall basis, during the third cycle (198286), countries with per capita GNPs of $500 a year or less received 80% of total UNDP funding, as compared with 52% in the 197781 period and 40% in the 197176 period.

In 1985, the Governing Council decided that for the fourth programming cycle (198791), countries with 1983 per capita GNPs of $750 or less a year were to receive 80% of IPF resources, reflecting UNDP's emphasis on assisting the poorer countries.

In the fifth programming cycle (199296) countries with yearly per capita GNPs of $750 or less received 87% of national IPF resources.

For the period 200103, 12% of IPF resources went to 74 middle-income countries, and 88% of IPF resources were distributed to 70 low-income countries, with yearly per capita GNPs of $900 or less.

Implementation in the Field

UNDP is primarily a funding, programming, monitoring, and coordinating organization. Over the years, the bulk of the field work it has supported has been carried out by UN agencies and regional commissions, and by regional development banks and funds. Increasingly, UNDP is also calling upon national institutions and nongovernmental organizations for project execution.

The executing agencies, as they are called, perform three major functions. They serve as "data banks" of development knowledge and techniques in their respective specialties. They help governments plan the individual sectors in their country programs for UNDP assistance. As a rule, they recruit the international experts, purchase the equipment, and procure the specialized contract services needed for project execution.

The choice of a particular agency to implement any given project is made by UNDP in consultation with the government of the developing country. Though a single agency is always in charge of a particular project, often two or more collaborate in providing the services required.

Through its Office for Project Services, UNDP directly implements those activities that are not carried out by other executing agencies, providing a full range of management services, including procurement and finance.

The progress of field work is monitored through periodic reviews, involving UNDP country office staffs, government officials, and experts of the executing agencies. A modern computer-based management information system provides a continuous flow of operational data from the field. When required, special missions are sent to program countries to evaluate project work.

Systematic efforts are made to stimulate follow-up investments on surveys, feasibility studies, and other appropriate projects. These activitieswhich often begin at very early stages of project implementationinvolve cooperation with all likely and acceptable sources of development financeinternal and external, public and private.

In a larger sense, however, most projects have a "built-in" follow-up component because they are deliberately planned to create permanent institutions or facilities that will be taken over by national personnel. Thus, many projectsparticularly in training, applied research, and development planningnot only continue, but also significantly expand their work after UNDP support ends.

Typically, some 5,000 projects, ranging from two to five years in duration, have been under way in any given year. Since 1993, however, UNDP has been making a deliberate attempt to sharpen its focus. It became more selective in what it would finance, concentrating in particular on capacity-building initiatives that gave priority to the poor, to creating employment, to advancing women, and to regenerating the environment.

Financing and Expenditures

UNDP is financed in several ways. First, the developing countries themselves pay a large share of the costs of their UNDP-assisted projects. Their funds are used for the salaries of local personnel, construction and maintenance of project buildings and facilities, and the purchase of locally available supplies and services. Second, almost every member of the UN and its associated agencies makes a yearly voluntary contribution to UNDP's core resources. Third, cost-sharing contributions make up a growing portion of UNDP's income. These are resources provided in convertible currency by program country governments, or by another country or organization to share in the costs of particular programs. In 1994 it became clear that the biennial budget would have to be reduced further to keep administrative costs in line with declining core program resources. Between 1992 and 1995 us$53.6 million was cut from the administrative budget, primarily through a 26% staff reduction at headquarters and 8% at the country level. Between 1992 and 1997, UNDP reduced its administrative budget by 19% in real terms and decreased total regular staff by nearly 15%. Regular staffing at headquarters was decreased by 31%. As of the late 1990s, a zero-growth budget policy was in effect and resources were being deployed from headquarters to the country offices.

In 2004, the UNDP's total income for the year was approximately $4 billion. At $842 million, regular resources exceeded the $800 million interim target set for the year in the 200407 Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF). This marked the first time since 1997 that regular resources surpassed this level. Other (non-core) contributions to UNDP also rose significantly in 2004, from almost all sources. Donor co-financing topped $1.5 billion in 2004, resulting in a total of $2.4 billion in income from donors. Local resources, channeled through UNDP by program country governments in support of their own development programs, totaled close to $1.4 billion. Preliminary figures for local resources from the top ten program countries in 2004 were: Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Peru, Bulgaria, Egypt, Paraguay, and El Salvador.

Major contributors to UNDP's core resources in 2004 (In millions of US$)
United States$98.71
United Kingdom72.31

Associated Programs

The UNDP administrator also is responsible for several associated funds and programs:

United Nations Capital Development Fund provides limited amounts of "seed financing" for such social infrastructure as low cost housing, water supply systems, rural schools, and hospitals; and for such "grass roots" productive facilities as agricultural workshops, cottage industry centers, cooperatives, and credit programs.

United Nations Drylands Development Center (formerly the UN Sudano-Sahelian Office) was created in 1973 in response to the severe effects of recurrent droughts in the Sahel, and became widely known by its acronym, UNSO. For many years, UNSO delivered a range of drought relief and development services in the Sahel under the management of UNDP. In 1995, UNSO took on a global mandate and began to branch out from sub-Saharan Africa to all parts of the world affected by desertification and drought. At that time it changed its name to UNDP's Office to Combat Desertification and Drought, but retained the acronym UNSO. Since 1995, UNSO (now the Drylands Development Center) has supported 29 countries in Africa, 22 in Asia and 19 in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop national and sub-regional action plans to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought.

United Nations Development Fund for Women provides direct assistance to innovative and potentially replicable projects involving women, including those to reduce workload and increase income; helps to raise women's status in society; and works to ensure their involvement in mainstream development activities. (see UNIFEM).

United Nations Volunteers program, established by the General Assembly in 1971, is administered by UNDP from its Geneva, Switzerland, office. Volunteers from more than 100 professions serve in both UNDP and UN-assisted projects, as well as in development programs carried out directly by host governments. Recruited globally, they are sent to a country only at the request, and with the approval, of the host government. Volunteers serve for two years and receive a monthly allowance to cover necessities. The average age of UNV specialists is 39, with an average of 10 years' experience in their field of specialization. The actual age ranges from the mid-20s to the 60s and 70s, as retirees are welcomed for their experience. In the first 35 years of the UNV's existence, more than 30,000 specialists had completed thousands of assignments.

The skills most in demand for UNV specialists are: agriculture, agronomy, animal husbandry, appropriate technology, audiovisual arts, business management, cartography, community development, computer programming, construction trades, data processing, demography, development administration, disaster preparedness, economics, education, electronics, employment for the disabled, engineering, environment, export promotion, fisheries, forestry, handicraft s, HIV/AIDS prevention, home economics, horticulture, logistics, marketing/trade promotion, medicine, nursing/midwifery, printing/bookbinding, public administration, public health, social work, statistics, teacher training, teaching English language, teaching math/science, technical trades/skills, urban/regional planning, vehicle/fleet maintenance, veterinary science, vocational training, women in development, and youth work.

In 2004, some 7,300 and women of 166 nationalities were serving in 140 developing countries as volunteer specialists and field workers. UNV professionals work alongside their host country peers in four main areas: technical cooperation; community-based initiatives for self-reliance; humanitarian relief and rehabilitation; and support to electoral and peace-building processes.


The first UN Conference on Trade and Development, which met in Geneva in the spring of 1964, recommended the establishment of a permanent UN body to deal with trade in relation to development. The General Assembly, noting that international trade was an important instrument for economic development and that there was a widespread desire among developing countries for a comprehensive trade organization, decided to establish UNCTAD as one of its permanent organs in December 1964.

The main purpose of UNCTAD is to promote international trade, particularly that of developing countries, with a view to accelerating economic development. UNCTAD is one of the principal instruments of the General Assembly for deliberation and negotiation in respect to international trade and international economic cooperation. It formulates principles and policies on international trade, initiates action for the adoption of multilateral trade agreements, and acts as a center for harmonizing trade and development policies of governments and regional economic groups. The 1992 conference reaffirmed UNCTAD's functions to be policy analysis, intergovernmental deliberation, consensus building, negotiation of international agreements, monitoring, implementation, follow-up, and technical cooperation.

UNCTAD has 192 member states and has granted observer status to a number of organizations. There have been 11 sessions of UNCTAD at approximately four-year intervals: Geneva (1964); New Delhi (1968); Santiago (1972); Nairobi (1976); Manila (1979); Belgrade (1983); Geneva (1987); Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (1992); Midrand, South Africa (1996); Bangkok, Thailand (2000); and São Paulo, Brazil (2004).

At the ninth session of UNCTAD, in May 1996, UNCTAD's new mandate sought to deal with:

  • the interests of developing countries;
  • competition and its relation to the law and the environment in developing countries;
  • support for small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • and to consolidate the Trade Point Network.

The outcome of the ninth session was a comprehensive agreement by the member governments of UNCTAD on the treatment of development and a concrete program of work, to be implemented by UNCTAD before the next general session in 2000.

In his closing statement of UNCTAD-X, Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero concluded that to date global integration had affected only a dozen developing countries. He called for "real reciprocity," a new international order that would remove massive barriers to trade in agriculture, textiles and clothing; give developing countries recognition for their efforts in promoting economic solidarityto "strengthen the move towards positive economic integration"; and transform existing international economic institutions so that they can "bridge the interests of both developed and developing countries."

UNCTAD́s eleventh session ended with the adoption of the São Paulo Consensus, which once again placed UNCTAD at the center of the trade and development debate. The official conference theme was "Enhancing coherence between national development strategies and global economic processes towards economic growth and development, particularly of developing countries." This focus on coherence was examined from the following four angles, each one corresponding to a subtheme: development strategies in a globalizing world economy; building productive capacity and international competitiveness; assuring development gains from the international trading system and trade negotiations; and partnership for development.


The continuing work of the organization is carried out between sessions by the Trade and Development Board (TDB), UNCTAD's executive body, established by the General Assembly. The TDB implements conference decisions and initiates studies and reports on trade and related development problems. The TDB reports annually to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council. It also serves as the preparatory body for sessions of the conference.

The Trade and Development Board has several standing committees that review trends and make recommendations in specific areas, including the Commission on Trade in Goods, Services, and Commodities; the Commission on Investment, Technology and Related Financial Issues; and the Commission on Enterprise, Business Facilitation and Development.


The UNCTAD secretariat is located at Geneva. It provides service to the conference, the TDB, and its subsidiary bodies. The Secretary-General of UNCTAD is appointed by the Secretary-General of the UN and confirmed by the General Assembly.

In May 1993 the UN General Assembly assigned the UNCTAD secretariat responsibility for servicing two subsidiary bodies of the Economic and Social Council: the Commission on Transnational Corporations and the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (see the section on "Economic and Social Development").

The UNCTAD secretariat also provided technical assistance to developing countries in connection with the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations which took place under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It continues to provide such services for Doha Round of trade negotiations in connection with the World Trade Organization, the successor body to GATT.

Export Promotion and Marketing

Export promotion and marketing are the responsibility of the International Trade Center in Geneva, which is operated jointly by UNCTAD and GATT. The center focuses attention on export market opportunities and helps developing countries to train personnel in marketing and export-promotion techniques and to set up the institutions and programs necessary to build up modern export-promotion services.


In 1980, the Agreement Establishing the Common Fund for Commodities was adopted by the UN Negotiating Conference on a Common Fund. International agreements also have been concluded for nine commoditiescocoa, coffee, tin, olive oil, sugar, natural rubber, wheat, jute and jute products, and tropical timbers. The fund came into operation in September 1989.

At its 1976 session in Nairobi, UNCTAD adopted an Integrated Program for Commodities aimed at setting prices for the primary commodities of developing countries that would take into account world inflation, monetary changes, and the cost of manufactured imports. As part of the program, the Nairobi session agreed that steps would be taken to negotiate a common fund for the financing of buffer stocks that would be held or sold as conditions required, thus helping to end the wide fluctuation in commodity prices that has plagued developing countries dependent on these products as exports.

The eighth session of UNCTAD in 1992 recognized the need to formulate an effective international commodity policy for the 1990s. Commodity markets remained extremely depressed and most of the commodity agreements achieved by UNCTAD in the 1980s had lapsed. In 1993 UNCTAD began to develop a micro-computer-based commodity analysis and information system (MICAS), which provides comprehensive, up-to-date information on all aspects of commodity use, production, trade, and consumption. The system assists developing countries in managing their economies and competing more effectively in world markets.

Preferential Tariffs for Developing Countries

UNCTAD adopted the General System of Preferences (GSP) in 1968, giving preferential tariff treatment in developed countries to manufactured goods exported by developing countries. By 1999, operating programs gave preferential treatment to more than us$70 billion worth of exports a year from more than 100 developing countries. However, the conference recognized that the more advanced developing countries benefited most from the system, and in 1992 efforts were undertaken to include more agricultural products and some "sensitive" industrial products. There are currently 13 national GSP schemes notified to the UNCTAD secretariat. The following countries grant GSP preferences: Australia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.


UNCTAD initiated the development of the 1978 UN Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea (called the Hamburg Rules). By July 1993, the Hamburg Rules had received 21 ratifications and entered into force on 1 November 1993.

The Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences (1974) provides for the national shipping lines of developing countries to participate on an equal basis with the shipping lines of developed countries. This convention became effective in 1983. In 1991 the conference reviewed this convention and adopted guidelines towards its more effective implementation. Technical and structural changes in liner shipping since 1974 were taken into account. By November 2005 there were 80 contracting parties to the convention.

The UN Convention on International Multimodal Transport of Goods (1980) establishes a single liability organizational structure for the international carriage of given consignments of goods entailing use of more than one mode of transport. By November 2005 it had received 11 ratifications (entry into force requires 30 contracting parties). As of that date, the convention was not yet in force.

The UN Convention on Conditions for Registration of Ships (1986) introduces new standards of responsibility and accountability for the world shipping industry and defines the elements of the genuine link that should exist between a ship and the state whose flag it flies. By November 2005, 14 ratifications had been received (entry into force requires 40 contracting parties accounting for 25% of the world's tonnage). As of 2006, the convention was not yet in force.

The UN International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages (1993) entered into force in September 2004. As of July 2005, there were 11 contracting parties to the convention. The convention was designed to address the need to improve conditions for ship financing and the development of national merchant fleets, recognizing the desirability of international uniformity in the field of maritime liens and mortgages.

The UN International Convention on the Arrest of Ships (1999) aims to regulate the circumstances under which ships may be arrested or released from arrest. It covers issues such as claims for which a ship may be arrested, ships that can be subject to arrest, release from arrest, right of rearrest and multiple arrests, liability for wrongful arrest and jurisdiction on merits of the case. As of July 2005, the convention was not yet in force: entry into force requires 10 contracting parties, and as of 2005 there were seven.

UNCTAD also provides technical cooperation and specialized training projects financed in part by UNDP. Training courses cover multimodal transport, improving port performance, and the use of the Advance Cargo Information System (ACIS) to enable shipping lines and railway companies to track the movement of cargo.

Other Multilateral Agreements and Conventions

The Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices (1980) establishes international means for the control of restrictive business practices, including those of transnational corporations, adversely affecting international trade, in particular the trade and economic development of developing countries.

Negotiations were begun in 1978 on an International Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology. The provisions of the proposed code fall into two broad groups: those concerning the regulation of the transfer of technology transactions and of the conduct of parties to them, and those relating to steps to be taken by governments to meet their commitments to the code. In 1991 consultations were held on setting up an intergovernmental group of experts to prepare ground for the resumption of negotiations on the code of conduct.

As a result of these consultations, the Trade and Development Board acknowledged that it was impossible at that time to obtain consensus on the outstanding issues for a draft code of conduct. In 1993 the Trade and Development Board established an Ad Hoc Working Group on Interrelationship between Investment and Technology Transfer to examine and encourage new initiatives on investment and technology policies that would facilitate technology transfer. This group adopted a work program aimed at examining issues of investment flows, transfer of technology and competitiveness, technological capacity-building in developing countries, and transfer and development of environmentally sound technologies. In light of the ongoing work of this group, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD recommended to the General Assembly in 1993 that further consultations on the code of conduct take place after the completion of the activities of the Ad Hoc Working Group.

UNCTAD also elaborated the Modes Clauses on Marine Hull and Cargo Insurance, which assists the insurance markets in developing countries to produce their own insurance policy clauses and conditions. UNCTAD also has prepared minimum standards for shipping agents that serve as guidelines for national authorities and professional associations establishing standards.

Debt Relief

In the area of money and finance, UNCTAD devotes particular attention to the debt problems of developing countries and has negotiated measures of debt relief for the poorer among those countries, as well as a set of agreed guidelines for dealing with future debt problems. At its 1987 session in Geneva, UNCTAD recommended a number of policy approaches and measures to deal with debt problems, resources for development, and related monetary issues; commodities; international trade; and the problems of the least developed countriesall aimed at revitalizing development, growth, and international trade in a more predictable and supportive environment through multilateral cooperation.

UNCTAD and the World Bank developed a joint program to extend technical cooperation to developing countries in the field of debt management. UNCTAD is responsible for the soft ware component of the project. The assistance is based on the development and distribution of the Debt Management and Financial Analysis System (DMFAS), soft ware designed to enable debtor countries to analyze data, make projections, and plan strategies for debt repayment. UNCTAD trains operators to use the soft ware. It also provides training for senior officials in raising their awareness of institutional reforms that might be necessary for effective debt management.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

In 2004 50 countries were classified as least developed countries (LDCs). UNCTAD has taken a lead role in mobilizing support for LDCs by organizing three UN conferences on LDCs. The first, held in Paris in 1980, adopted the Substantial New Program of Action (SNPA), which defined measures to be taken by LDCs to promote their own development. The second, also held in Paris, in 1990, reviewed the implementation of the SNPA and strengthened the program. The third conference held in Brussels in 2001 focused on the eradication of poverty (see below).

UNCTAD has given political impetus to the setting of official development assistance at 0.7% of the GNP of donor countries. It also has recommended improvement of International Monetary Fund's compensatory financing facility for export earnings shortfalls of developing countries and the creation of special drawing rights for LDCs.

The eighth session of UNCTAD in 1992 requested that detailed analyses be made of the socioeconomic situations and domestic policies of the LDCs, their resource needs, and external factors affecting their economies. The ninth session of UNCTAD in 1996 adopted the Midrand Declaration, which called for greater partnership between developed, developing, and the least developed countries.

From 1420 May 2001, the UN held the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed CountriesLDC III. The eradication of poverty was the main agenda on the program. In 2002, UNCTAD released a report on poverty in LDCs, "Escaping the Poverty Trap," which was the first international comparative analysis of poverty in the LDCs. It is based on a new set of poverty estimates, which enable empirically based analysis of the relationship between poverty, development and globalization.

Trade in the 21st Century

The 1992 conference identified four priority areas to be analyzed.

  1. New International Partnership for Development. To assist developing countries and countries in transition to market economies increase their participation in the world economy.
  2. Global Interdependence. Emphasis to be placed on the international implications of macroeconomic policies, the evolution of international trading, monetary and financial systems, effective management at the international level, and the consequences of enlarged economic spaces and regional integration processes.
  3. Paths to Development. The conference called for studies of national development experiences with a view to deriving useful lessons to inform future action. The studies would include consideration of general economic management and the relationships between economic progress and market orientation.
  4. Sustainable Development. The interaction between trade and environmental policies was to be considered. The promotion and implementation of environmentally sound technologies as elaborated at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 were stressed.

The 1992 conference also discussed trade efficiency and the use of electronic data interchange to reduce the cost of transactions. In July 1995, UNCTAD organized a World Symposium on Trade Efficiency in Columbus, Ohio. The symposium was subtitled "New Technologies for Efficient Global Trade; UNCTAD's Tradepoint Network." The symposium united trade ministers, chief executives, and senior officials in focusing on new technologies in the fields of banking, insurance, transportation, telecommunications, and information for trade. The promotion of international standards for electronic commerce was a key component of the symposium. The symposium also launched a worldwide process of alleviating technical and procedural barriers that prevent poorer countries from fully participating in world trade. UNCTAD is developing a Trade Point Network of 100 operational trading points to facilitate this process. At the end of 1999, 114 countries were participating in UNCTAD's Trade Point Program.

In November 2002, UNCTAD handed over its Trade Point Program to the program's beneficiaries, represented by the World Trade Point Federation (WTPF). The WTPF was established in November 2000, with its objectives being to open international markets to new participants and to make them more competitive by giving them access to the most advanced e-commerce technologies and information networks. The WTPF aims to develop the Trade Point network in close cooperation with member states while adhering to its developmental goals and assistance to weaker players in international trade.


The World Food Program, which the UN sponsors jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), began operations in 1963. It has since grown from a small experimental program to become the largest multilateral food distributor in the world. In 2004, approximately 113 million people in 80 countries received direct assistance through WFP emergency operations and development projects.

Between 1946 and 1960, several attempts were made to establish an international body to regulate international trade and to deal with surpluses produced by food exporting countries. None of these attempts were successful, mainly because some countries objected to interference in their trade relations. In 1955, a study called, "Uses of Agricultural Surpluses to Finance Economic Development in Under-developed Countries," provided the breakthrough. The report posited that agricultural surpluses could finance additional investment in developing countries without competing with the sales of domestic products or with imports from other countries.

At the 1961 FAO Conference, George McGovern, the head of the US delegation, formally proposed establishing a multilateral program with a fund of us$ 100 million in commodities and cash, to which the United States was willing to contribute us$ 40 million. This initiative led the FAO and the UN to establish the World Food Program on a three-year experimental basis (January 1963 to December 1965).

WFP uses food commodities, cash, and services contributed by UN member states to back programs of social and economic development, as well as for emergency relief. At the request of governments, WFP provides food aid for development projects to increase agricultural production, rehabilitate roads and other vital infrastructure, protect the environment and improve health and education. WFP food assistance also provides basic sustenance for refugees and other victims of disasters. The aim of the WFP is to apply food aid in ways that will eventually make the recipients self-sufficient in obtaining or producing food. The success of the program's work should ultimately be judged by the number of people who, over time, are able to feed themselves.

In the first three decades of its existence, the program invested approximately us$ 14 billion (43 million tons of food aid) to combat hunger and to promote economic and social development in the developing world. More than 1,600 development projects and 1,200 emergency operations were assisted by the WFP during that period. However, in the mid-1990s, emergency operations dominated the WFP's work. In 2001 alone, WFP delivered 2.7 million metric tons of emergency food aid to nearly 77 million people in 82 countries.

WFP supplies for development purposes are used in a variety of ways. Early projects included a land-settlement project in Bolivia, the development of nomadic sheep husbandry in Syria, resettling nomads in Egypt, land reclamation and development in Morocco, and land settlement in Tanzania. Other projects contributed directly to the development of human resources by providing food for school children, expectant and nursing mothers, hospital patients, and adults attending education centers.

The program gave special attention to creating employment and income through food-for-work programs. In Bangladesh, a vulnerable-group development project, begun in 1975, continues to provide training in health, literacy, and income-generation for women. Similar projects were started in Bolivia and Mexico, while major land-development programs commenced in Egypt, Sudan, Korea, and China. The largest single dairy project ever undertaken, "Operation Flood," in India increased milk production by 50% and benefited 30 million people.

Early in its operations, recipient governments had a major problem in covering the non-food costs of a project, including transport storage and other expenses. The early success of the program (28 formal requests for aid in May 1963 rose to 193 requests by November 1964) led donor countries to increase their contributions to cover these costs. Indeed, the WFP's ability to quickly transport large quantities of food, at short notice, to remote areas of the world, is one of its most important areas of expertise.

In 1973 a worldwide food shortage created a serious lack of resources, and the WFP governing body was unable to approve any new projects that year. The number of existing recipients and the size of their rations also were cut. Despite these measures there was a shortfall of 160,000 tons of commodities. A concerted effort was made to find new funds, and in 1974 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia offered us$ 50 million, the largest cash donation ever made. This marked a turning point because the donation came from a nonindustrial developing country that was, and still is, a net importer of food commodities. It also marked an important change in the nature of donations, away from the idea of surplus disposal and toward a wider sharing of responsibility for those in need.

In 1975 the UN General Assembly established the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR), to be placed at the disposal of WFP. This reserve, which receives contributions from all governments, has a minimum annual target of 500,000 tons, enabling WFP to quickly respond to emergency situations.

In 1988 donor commitments for development activities reached a high point of us$ 778 million, which represented two-thirds of WFP resources. By 1993 this trend had reversed and emergency situations were consuming more than 60% of WFP's resources. Part of this increase is directly attributable to the program's new relationship with the UN body that supervises refugee relief. In January 1992, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) worked out an agreement giving the WFP the responsibility to procure and deliver food commodities to UNHCR-managed refugee feeding operations.

In the last 40 years, WFP has witnessed the graduation of former food-aid recipients to the status of potential donors. The Republic of Korea, Singapore, Venezuela, Greece, Hungary, and Mexico are all former recipients who now boast growing economies. The program has also developed ways to use its cash contributions creatively. For example, by buying more food in developing countries for relief and development activities it has encouraged and expanded trade between developing countries. In 1993 the WFP was the largest UN purchaser of goods in developing countries.

WFP has its headquarters in Rome and development projects in 80 countries worldwide; over half of the WFP's staff are employed on a temporary basis. Permanent staff members (numbering 8,829 in 2004) were employed at headquarters (802 people) and in the field (8,027 people). It is administered by an executive director. Its governing body is the 36-member Bureau of the Executive Board. Half of the members of the board are elected by ECOSOC, the other half by the FAO Council. In 2006, the 18 members of the executive board elected by ECOSOC were: Australia, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe. Executive board members elected by the FAO Council were Algeria, Angola, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Congo (Republic of), Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Kuwait, Netherlands, Niger, Slovenia, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, and United States of America.

In 2004, WFP had us$ 2.9 billion in expenditures. Of that amount, 91% was spent on relief aid, and 9% on development aid. Of the 5.1 million metric tons of food distributed, 1.8 million tons went for emergency operations, 557.5 thousand tons went for development projects, 1.2 million tons went for protracted relief and recovery operations, and 1.6 million tons for the Iraq bilateral operation.

In 2005, the WFP conducted one of its most complex emergency operations ever, to respond to the Indian Ocean tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea earthquake on 26 December 2004, which killed hundreds of thousands of people across Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives, Thailand, Myanmar and Somalia, and left hundreds of thousands more without their homes or livelihoods. In response, the WFP used helicopters, aircraft, cargo ships, landing craft and traditional trucks to provide essential food aid to 1.75 million tsunami survivors, averting starvation and widespread malnutrition in the wake of the disaster.


The UN has been concerned with population questions since its earliest years, establishing the Population Commission in 1947 as one of the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council. The early work of the UN on population questions concentrated on the improvement of demographic statistics, which were lacking for many areas of the world, and then began to focus on the application of statistical data in analytical studies and in the preparation of worldwide population estimates and projections. The first Demographic Yearbook was published by the UN Statistical Office in 1948.

In the 1960s, however, the extraordinarily rapid rate at which the world's population was growing became an urgent concern (between 1950 and 1960, the world population increased from 2.5 billion to over 3 billion, and by 2000 it had doubledreaching 6 billion). In a resolution adopted in 1966, the General Assembly authorized the UN to provide technical assistance in population matters, and the following year, the General Assembly established a Trust Fund for Population Activities, renamed in 1969 the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), to provide additional resources to the UN system for technical cooperation activities in the population field. In 1972, the fund was placed under the authority of the General Assembly, which designated the Governing Council of UNDP as its administering body. By its resolution number 1763 (LIV) of 18 May 1973, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations defined the mandate of UNFPA, and, in 1979, the General Assembly affirmed that the UNFPA was a subsidiary organ. In 1987, the fund's name was changed to the United Nations Population Fund, but the acronym UNFPA was retained. In 1993, the General Assembly transformed the Governing Council of UNDP into the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board, which provides intergovernmental support to and supervision of the UNFPA in accordance with overall policy guidance of the General Assembly and ECOSOC of the United Nations.

The first World Population Conference, held in Bucharest in 1974, adopted a World Population Plan of Action (WPPA) that stressed the relationship between population factors and overall economic and social development. The General Assembly affirmed that the plan was "an instrument of the international community for the promotion of economic development" and urged that assistance in the population field should be expanded, particularly to UNFPA, for the proper implementation of the plan.

The International Conference on Population, held in Mexico City in August 1984, reaffirmed the validity of the WPPA and adopted recommendations for its further implementation. Target mortality rates were adjusted, and emerging issues, such as migration, urbanization, computerized data processing, and aging of populations, were addressed. Also considered was the need for an intersectoral approach to population and development, for policies that respect individual and family rights, and for improvement in the status of women, including their increased participation in all aspects of development.

The third decennial conference, the International Conference on Population and Development, was held in Cairo, 513 September 1994. The Programme of Action adopted at the Cairo conference recommended that population concerns be fully integrated into development planning, in order to meet the needs and improve the quality of life of present and future generations. The program builds upon the considerable international awareness and knowledge that has developed since the Bucharest and Mexico City conferences regarding the linkages among population issues, sustained economic growth, and sustainable development. The program also addresses the reproductive health and educational needs of individuals, especially of girls and women, and calls for increased investment in the social sectors, from donor agencies and recipient governments alike.

UNFPA supports a broad range of population activities. Nearly half of the fund's assistance is used for maternal and child health care and family planning programs. Another 20% is used for population and family planning communication and education. UNFPA also supports developing countries in their efforts to collect and analyze population data, conduct population censuses, formulate population policies, and undertake research on fertility, mortality, and migration and their relationship to development, as well as on linkages between population and sustainable development. The fund supports special programs concerning women, youth, the aged, HIV/AIDS, and population and development. UNFPA is the leading source of population assistance within the United Nations system. The fund's resources come from voluntary contributions from governments.

UNFPA's Work

A major component of UNFPA's work is disseminating information based on its data and analysis of population trends. In the State of the World Population 1999 report, UNFPA called the dawn of the 21st century a time of choices and it urged governments to action. With global population quadrupling during the 20th century, surpassing 6 billion in 1999, UNFPA stated that how fast the next billion people are added, what the effect will be on natural resources and the environment, and the quality of life will depend on policy and funding decisions that are made over the next 5 to 10 years. The population report pointed to the issue of below replacement-level reproduction in some 60 countries, which, UNFPA predicted, would put pressures on these developed nations to provide support and medical care for the elderly. Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS is taking a higher toll in some parts of the world (particularly sub-Saharan Africa) than it is elsewhere, lowering life expectancy and "erasing decades of progress in child mortality" in these regions. Finally, the report highlighted unbalanced consumption patterns around the globe, concluding that it will combine with continued population growth to cause environmental damageincluding the collapse of fisheries, shrinking forests, rising temperatures, and the extinction of numerous plant and animal species. In summary, UNFPA warned that unless nations rededicate themselves to combating issues of overpopulation, continuing poverty, gender discrimination, threats such as HIV/AIDS, environmental changes, and shrinking (relative to the population) resources, the benefits of lower fertility that were realized in the second half of the 20th century would be wiped out. UNFPA urged governments to commit action and funding to the 20-year Programme of Action endorsed by the world's governments in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development.

In its World Population 1999 report, UNFPA focused on global women's issues and youth at risk. In both areas the organization called for stepped-up educational and health programs. UNFPA stated that despite progress, far too many women are denied education, contraception, and decent health care, and that violence against women is "endemic in all countries." The report went on to say that hundreds of millions of women continue to suffer needlessly from gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and poor health. Similarly, UNFPA stated that "today's young people are frequently at risk of unwanted pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, sexual exploitation, and alienation from parents and communities." The organization warned that ignoring the issues confronting women and youth incurs high costs"in ill health, wasted opportunities, and social disruption." According to UNFPA, studies have shown that family life education should begin early to help young people through the years when they are beginning to be interested in sex. Further, the benefits of education for girls and women had been well-documented during the 1900s, yet in 1999 in developing countries, girls comprised two-thirds of the 130 million children not attending school. The call for schooling was seen to have the double benefit of educating young women and postponing childbirth.

While UNFPA releases the report annually, the 1999 document was expected to have far-reaching influence in that it was issued as the world turned its attention to considering the next millennium, in a year when a critical population threshold (6 billion) was crossed, and it was followed, in 2000, by several conferences that used the 1999 report as the basis for discussion and program development. Among the major conferences that took place in 2000 were Beijing+5 Review (New York, 59 June 2000), the World Summit for Social Development and Beyond (Geneva, Switzerland, 2630 June 2000), and Millennium Summit: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century (New York, 68 September 2000).

Budget and Organization

Regular and other income in 2004 totaled us$506.1 million, compared to $397.9 million in 2003. Regular income in 2004 totaled us$331.6 million, an increase of 13.4% compared to the 2003 income of us$292.3 million. This includes us$322.5 million in voluntary contributions from donor governments, us$3.5 million in interest income, and other income of us$5.6 million. Project expenditures (regular resources) in 2004 totaled us$221.9 million, as compared to us$176.4 million in 2003. The 2004 figure includes us$181.6 million for country programs, compared to us$140.5 million in 2003; and us$40.3 million for intercountry (regional and interregional) programs, compared to us$35.9 million for 2003. The 2004 figures also include us$6.4 million for administrative and operational services. Technical advisory program expenditures amounted to us$19.4 million.

In 2004, UNFPA provided support to 126 developing countries, areas and territories and countries with economies in transition: 45 in sub-Saharan Africa, 37 in the Arab States and Europe, 21 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 23 in Asia and the Pacific. The region of sub-Saharan Africa received the largest percentage of UNFPA assistance at us$ 78.1 million, followed by Asia and the Pacific at us$ 65.9 million, the Arab States and Europe at us$ 28.7 million and Latin America and the Caribbean at us$ 21.1 million. Interregional assistance amounted to us$ 28.1 million.

UNFPA publishes a range of products in a variety of media. Public service announcements are broadcast on national and international television networks around the world. The definitive publication is the annual The State of World Population, a comprehensive demographic study of patterns in population growth and distribution. UNFPA also publishes the annual AIDS Update, which highlights assistance provided by UNFPA for HIV/AIDS prevention and control activities undertaken in line with national AIDS policies and programs and within the global strategy of the Joint and Co-sponsored UN Program on HIV/AIDS.


In the course of the twentieth century, and especially after World War II, the increase in the earth's population and the advance of technology, with concomitant changes in patterns of production and consumption, led to pressure on the environment and threats to its stability that were new in human history. For a long time, the implications of these phenomena were largely ignored. In the decade of the 1960s, however, problems such as soil erosion; air, water, and marine pollution; the need for conservation of limited resources; and desiccation of once-fertile zones became acute enough to awaken the consciousness of governments and people in all parts of the world, but especially in the industrialized countries, to the urgency of the situation. The UN responded with the decision of the 1968 General Assembly to convene a world conference on the human environment.

The first UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm in June 1972. The conference was a focus for, rather than the start of, action on environmental problems. At its conclusion, the participants, representing over 90% of the world's population, adopted a declaration and a 109-point plan of action for the human environment that became the blueprint for a wide range of national and international programs. The broad intent of the action plan was to define and mobilize "common effort for the preservation and improvement of the human environment." The preamble to the declaration conveys the urgency, magnitude, and complexity of that task.

Later in 1972, on the basis of the conference's recommendations, the General Assembly created the UN Environment Program (UNEP), to monitor significant changes in the environment and to encourage and coordinate sound environmental practices. With headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP is the first global UN agency to be headquartered in a developing country. Its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Twenty years after its inception, UNEP's mandate was reaffirmed and strengthened in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Out of that conference came an ambitious plan of actionAgenda 21with an emphasis on integrating development and environment into all United Nations program areas.

The UNEP secretariat is headed by an executive director who is elected by the UN General Assembly for a four-year term, upon the recommendation of the Secretary-General. Besides its Nairobi headquarters, UNEP maintains regional offices in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, West Asia, and North America.

UNEP's Governing Council is composed of 58 states elected by the General Assembly for four-year terms on the basis of equitable geographic representation (16 African seats, 13 Asian seats, 10 Latin American and Caribbean seats, 6 seats for Eastern European states, 13 seats for Western European and other states). The Governing Council generally meets every two years.

Member states on the Governing Council over the 2004-07 period were: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Council's functions and responsibilities include promoting international cooperation in the field of environment and recommending policies to that end, providing general policy guidance for environmental programs within the UN system, keeping the world environmental situation under review so as to ensure that emerging problems requiring international assistance receive adequate consideration by governments, promoting the contribution by international scientific and other professional communities to knowledge about the environment and the technical aspects of UN environmental programs, keeping under review the impact of national and international development policies, and reviewing and approving the utilization of the resources of the Environment Fund.

The Environment Fund was set up under the authority of the Governing Council to finance wholly or partly the costs of new environmental initiatives within the UN system. It is made up of voluntary contributions. Since 2000, annual contributions to the Environment Fund have been growing in US dollar terms at a rate of between 9% and 10%. The number of donor countries has also been increasing. In 2003, 126 countries pledged or paid a total of $52.7 million. In 2004, contributions continued to increase. Total annual contributions for 2004 were estimated at $59.1 million.

For its first 20 years, UNEP's policy, as set by the Governing Council, has been focused on the three broad areas of environmental assessment, environmental management, and international environmental law. Many parts to the program evolved under these three themes. There was the environmental monitoring capacity built up in the Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS), and the establishment of a computer-based store of data in the International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC). More computer-based capability was developed to show how both natural and human resources are distributed in the Global Resource Information Database (GRID). In addition,, a web-based interactive catalogue and multifaceted portal, offers access to environmentally relevant geographic, textual, and pictorial information. Another key information system is INFOTERRA, UNEP's international network for the retrieval of global environmental information. It is a worldwide network with national focal points in 177 countries, providing governments, industry, and researchers with access to a vast reservoir of environmental data and information gathered from about 6,800 institutions and experts in more than 1,000 priority subject areas.

Environmental management and legal instruments were developed. The most successful example of international environmental law can be seen in the instruments used to protect the ozone layer: the 1985 Vienna Convention and the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Expert groups convened by UNEP, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the scientific community, and industry, led to the development of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted in March 1985. In September 1987 the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed, setting limits for the production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons. The Montreal Protocol came into force on 1 January 1989 and was amended in London in June 1990, in Copenhagen in 1992, and in Vienna in 1995 after research showed that ozone depletion was even more severe than previously feared. Industrialized countries succeeded in phasing out the production and consumption of halons by 1 January 1994, and were well on the way to the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons by the end of 1995. The consumption of CFCs in industrialized countries decreased from about 1,000,000 tons in 1987 (when the Protocol was signed) to about 13,000 tons in 1996. Developing countries, although mandated to begin phase-out only in 1999, began making progress before that time. A multilateral fund, involving UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank, was established to help developing countries meet the costs of complying with the revised protocol and to provide for the necessary transfer of technology. By 2001, the fund had already disbursed us$ 1.2 billion to developing countries for transition to ozone-safe technology.

The Mediterranean Action Plan has been the model as UNEP's Regional Seas Programme has spread. Today, nearly 140 countries take part in Regional Seas Programmes catalyzed and coordinated by UNEP. Action Plans cover the Mediterranean, the Kuwait region, the Red Sea, the Caribbean, the Atlantic coast of West and Central Africa, the Eastern African seaboard, the Pacific coast of South America, the islands of the South Pacific, the East-Asian region, the South Asian region, the Black Sea, the North-West Pacific and the South-West Atlantic. An Action Plan for the Caspian Sea is being developed. Coordination is provided through the UNEP Water Branch.

UNEP provides the secretariat for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which entered into force in 1975 and prohibits or regulates trade in some 30,000 endangered species. The protection of endangered species under the CITES Convention has seen successful international cooperation to stamp out trade in rare plants and animals.

UNEP also provides the secretariat for the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which came into force in 1983. UNEP supports the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), which assesses the distribution and abundance of the world's species. Action plans for African elephants and rhinos, Asian elephants and rhinos, primates, cats, and polar bears have been published by UNEP and IUCN.

UNEP also has contributed to the drawing up of global conventions on hazardous waste, climate change, biodiversity, and desertification and of international guidelines, including those on international trade in chemicals, protection of marine environment from land-based activities, environmental impact assessment and shared natural resources.

In March 1989, the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, draft ed by UNEP, was adopted by 116 governments and the European Community. The convention entered into force on 5 May 1992. Its immediate target is to impose strict controls on the international movement of hazardous wastes and eventually to reduce their production. As of August 2005, 168 countries were parties to the convention.

In June 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity was signed during the UN Conference on Environmental and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The convention was prepared by an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, set up by UNEP's Governing Council and assisted by UNEP, FAO, UNESCO, and IUCN. Its main aims are to conserve biological diversity and to ensure that its benefits to mankind are shared equitably.

UNEP also supports the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), which has established a network of gene banks in 30 countries to house the world's 40 base collections. More than 100 countries collaborate and more than 500,000 plant species have been collected, evaluated, and deposited.

A joint venture between UNEP, UNDP, and the UN Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) assisted 22 Sudano-Sahelian countries to fight desertification. In spite of these efforts, implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification was slow. UNEP's Plan of Action to Combat Desertification was succeeded by the Convention to Combat Desertification, which entered into force in 1996. The UNSO was later renamed the UN Drylands Development Center. UNEP's activities in desertification control focus on achieving strong support and effective implementation of the convention.

UNEP, along with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to provide scientific assessments on the magnitude, timing, and potential environmental and socioeconomic consequences of climate change and realistic response strategies. Negotiations begun in early 1991 led to the formulation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by 154 governments in Rio de Janeiro during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. It entered into force on 21 March 1994.

The organization also is responsible for UN activities involving freshwater. Among regional initiatives are the Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean and the program for environmentally sound management of inland waters in the Zambezi Basin.

UNEP, along with UNDP and the World Bank, administers the us$ 3 billion Global Environment Facility (GEF), and is responsible for GEF's Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP). GEF was established as a three-year pilot in 1991 to oversee funding for global environment protection in the areas of climate change, biodiversity, international waters, and ozone depletion. In 1992, a restructuring process began that resulted in agreement on fundamentally altered institutional arrangements for the facility, now known as GEFF II. UNEP will play the primary role in catalyzing the development of scientific and technical analysis and in advancing environmental management in GEF-financed activities. It also will be responsible for establishing and supporting the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel as an advisory body to the GEF. The UNDP is responsible for technical assistance activities and capacity building. The World Bank, the GEF Trust Fund's repository, plays the primary role in ensuring the development and management of investment projects while also mobilizing private sector resources that are consistent with GEF objectives and national sustainable development strategies. The GEF provides the interim funding mechanism for the conventions on climate change and biological diversity, until parties to those conventions agree on a permanent arrangement.

UNCED and Agenda 21 marked a new beginning for the world community as a whole. Agenda 21 reaffirmed UNEP's role as the principal environment body in the UN system and expanded UNEP's role to encompass a vast range of world environmental needs and problems, with an emphasis on regional delivery.

Five years later, at the nineteenth session of the Governing Council of UNEP in 1997, as part of the ongoing reform process of the United Nations system, UNEP's Governing Council adopted the Nairobi Declaration, again asserting the role and mandate of UNEP as the leading global environmental authority and calling for assurances of financial stability for the implementation of its agenda.

Specifically, the Nairobi Declaration set out the following as core elements of the focused mandate of a revitalized UNEP:

  • To analyze the state of the global environment and assess global and regional environmental trends;
  • To further the development of its international environmental law aiming at sustainable development;
  • To advance the implementation of agreed international norms and policies;
  • To strengthen its role in the coordination of environmental activities in the United Nations system in the field of environment;
  • To promote greater awareness and facilitate effective cooperation among all sectors of society and actors involved in the implementation of the international environmental agenda;
  • To provide policy and advisory services in key areas of institution building to Governments and other relevant institutions.

UNEP's integrated work program emphasizes relationships between socio-economic driving forces, environmental changes, and impacts on human well-being. Equipped with a stronger regional presence and marked by a process of continuous monitoring and assessment of its implementation, UNEP's program of work focuses on the following areas: sustainable management and use of natural resources; sustainable production and consumption; a better environment for human health and well-being; and globalization of the economy and the environment.

In 2000, the fifth special session of the UNEP Governing Council and the subsequent 20th session of the Governing Council elaborated UNEP's areas of concentration, which included environmental monitoring, assessment, information, and research (including early warning); enhanced coordination of environmental conventions and development of environment policy instruments; freshwater; technology transfer and industry; and support to Africa. To support these initiatives, UNEP initiated a restructuring that was expected to trim administration costs while developing the Nairobi facility as a critical UN administrative office.

At the ninth special session of the UNEP Governing Council, held in Dubai in 2006, major policy areas included: energy and the environment; chemicals management; and tourism and the environment. The ninth special session was held in part as a follow-up to the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development.


UN concern with the problems of human settlements, particularly with the deteriorating quality of living conditions in developing countries and the need to link urban and regional development programs with national development plans, led to the convening of the first international conference on the question in Vancouver, Canada, in MayJune 1976. The declaration and plan of action adopted by Habitat: UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I) represented an important commitment on the part of governments and the international community to improve the quality of life for all people through human settlements development. The plan of action contained 64 recommendations for national action concerning settlement policies and planning; provision of shelter, infrastructure, and services; land use and land tenure; the role of popular participation; and effective institutions and management.

Habitat I also recommended the strengthening and consolidation of UN activities in a single organization concerned exclusively with human settlements. Acting on this recommendation, the General Assembly established in 1978 the UN Center for Human Settlements (Habitat, also UNCHS), with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, to serve as a focal point for human settlements action and to coordinate human settlements activities within the UN system.

The center provides technical assistance to governments; organizes expert meetings, workshops, and training seminars; issues print, audio visual, and electronic publications; and disseminates information worldwide. In 1993 the center had under execution 257 technical cooperation programs and projects in over 90 countries, with an overall budget in excess of us$ 42 million for the year.

In 1982, the General Assembly proclaimed 1987 as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. The objectives were to improve the shelter situation of the poor and disadvantaged at both individual and community levels, particularly in developing countries, and to demonstrate means of continuing those efforts as ongoing national programs beyond 1987.

Beginning in 1986, the tenth anniversary of Habitat I, World Habitat Day has been observed each year on the first Monday in October. As lead agency in the UN system for coordinating activities related to the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000, the center continues to work toward its goal of facilitating adequate shelter for all by that date.

The Habitat II Conference met in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996, 20 years after Habitat I. Subtitled "A Summit for Cities," the UN Conference on the Future of Cities has as its goal making the world's cities, towns, and villages healthy, safe, just, and sustainable. The two central themes were "sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world" and "adequate shelter for all."

The follow-up conference took place from 68 June 2001; "Istanbul+5: Reviewing and Appraising Progress Five Years after Habitat II" was a special session of the UN General Assembly. At the special session, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, which reaffirmed the Istanbul declaration, undertook a review and assessment of the Habitat Agenda, and proposed further actions for attaining the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable development of human settlements.

In 2002, the agency's mandate was strengthened and its status elevated to that of a fully fledged program of the UN system. Key recommendations and fine tuning of the agenda are now underway as strategy clusters for achieving the urban development and shelter goals and targets of the Millennium Declaration-the UN's development agenda that reaches to the years 2015-2020.


The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) was created in 1963 as an autonomous agency within the UN system. It engages in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. Its work is guided by the conviction that, for effective development policies to be formulated, an understanding of the social and political context is crucial. The institute attempts to provide governments, development agencies, grass roots organizations, and scholars with a better understanding of how development policies and processes of economic, social, and environmental change affect different social groups.

Working through an extensive network of national research centers, UNRISD aims to promote original research and strengthen research capacity in developing countries.

The UNRISD program for the 200005 period included work in the following areas: social policy and development; democracy, governance, and human rights; identities, conflict and cohesion; civil society and social movements; technology, business, and society.

In 1996, UNRISD conducted the War-Torn Societies Project, which focused on post-conflict rebuilding and rehabilitation. The project sought to identify novel and integrated policy responses to the complex interactions between peacekeeping, relief, rehabilitation, and development activities.

The UNRISD Internship Program provides a limited number of graduate students from around the world the opportunity to gain valuable experience in an international research institute setting. Interns are selected on the basis of their academic experience and interests. Students selected for the unpaid internships spend a minimum of two months at UNRISD assisting project coordinators in developing project proposals, compiling annotated bibliographies, organizing research seminars, translating correspondence, and carrying out various tasks in the Reference Centre. As part of its mandate, UNRISD issues newsletters, books, and other publications, some of which are available online at

By 2005, the institute had approximately 50 staff members at its headquarters in Geneva, and is financed entirely by voluntary contributions.


In 1963, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to establish a UN Institute for Training and Research as an autonomous body within the framework of the UN. UNITAR commenced functioning in March 1965. It is headed by an executive director and has a board of trustees appointed by the UN Secretary-General in consultation with the president of the General Assembly and the president of the Economic and Social Council. UNITAR originally had its headquarters in New York and a European office in Geneva. In 1993 UNITAR's headquarters was transferred to Geneva. It maintains a liaison office in New York to coordinate training activities.

The mandate of UNITAR is to enhance the effectiveness of the UN in attaining its major objectivesparticularly the maintenance of peace and the promotion of economic and social developmentthrough training and research. Its functions include ensuring liaison with UN organizations and strengthening cooperation with academic institutions; conducting training programs in multilateral diplomacy and international cooperation for diplomats accredited to the United Nations and national officials; and carrying out a wide range of training programs in social and economic development. In addition, UNITAR responds to ad hoc requests for training. For example, in 1993 UNITAR received requests for programs from UNDP, UNEP, and other UN bodies.

In the late 1990s, UNITAR offered courses in the following areas: debt, economic, and financial management; foreign economic relations; international affairs management; international migration policy; peacemaking and preventive diplomacy; applications of environmental law; chemicals and waste management; climate change; decentralized cooperation; and information and communication technologies.

In a typical year, UNITAR designs and conducts some 150 different training programs on five continents for the benefit of more than 8,000 national staff and government officials. In the early 1990s training programs in diplomacy, negotiation, foreign affairs management, and debt and financial management were developed for newly independent countries in Europe and Central Asia; countries in transition in Africa, Asia, and Europe; and for the Palestinian negotiating team.

The institute's research program originally concentrated on three main areas: UN institutional issues, peace and security issues, and economic and social issues. After restructuring in 1992, basic research on training was conducted only if extrabudgetary funds were provided.

UNITAR is supported by voluntary contributions from governments, intergovernmental organizations, foundations, and other nongovernmental organizations.


In 1969, Secretary-General U Thant proposed that a UN university be established. The Founding Committee was set up two years later, and in December 1973, the General Assembly approved a charter for the university. The following spring, the UNU Council, composed of academic leaders and prominent persons from 24 countries, was appointed. Members of the university council serve in their individual capacities rather than as representatives of governments. UNU commenced operations in September 1975. For 17 years the university maintained its headquarters in a high-rise office building in Tokyo. In 1992 it moved to a new building in the Shibuya district of Tokyo constructed and made available by the government of Japan. The university maintains a liaison office in New York.

UNU is an autonomous organ of the General Assembly. It is jointly sponsored by the UN and UNESCO, whose Secretary-General and Director General, respectively, together appoint the rector and members of the university council. Its charter guarantees academic freedom and emphasizes the primacy of scholarly excellence over any other considerationsfor example, choices of programs and personnelin determining its activities.

Like traditional universities, UNU is concerned with the advancement of knowledge. Unlike traditional universities, however, it has no students of its own, no faculty, and no campus. It is a completely new institution: an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training, and the dissemination of knowledge to help solve, in the words of its charter, "pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare." It operates through worldwide networks of academic and research institutions and individual scholars who work together on projects concerned with such problems as peace, development, the environment, science, and technology. The UNU's areas of concentration are: peace; governance; environment; science, technology, and society; and development.

The academic activities of the university are carried out primarily through a network of its research and training centers: UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER), Helsinki, Finland; UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Center on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), Maastricht, the Netherlands; UNU International Institute for Soft ware Technology (UNU/IIST), Macau, China; UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU/INRA), Accra, Ghana; UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU/IAS) in Yokohama, Japan; UNU Program for Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU/BIOLAC) in Caracas, Venezuela; UNU International Leadership Institute (UNU/ILI) in Amman, Jordan; UNU International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU/INWEH) in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; UNU Food and Nutrition Program for Human and Social Development (UNU-FNP) at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (United States); UNU Fisheries Training Program (UNU/FTP), Iceland; UNU Program on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU/CRIS), Bruges, Belgium; UNU Geothermal Training Program (UNU/GTP) in Reykjavik, Iceland; and UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNI-EHS) in Bonn, Germany.

Between 1976 and 1996, some 1,450 UNU fellows received postgraduate training through the university's network. Fellows are selected after recommendation from their home institutions, which must be working in an area of concern to the university, and must be committed to returning to work at those institutions.

The UNU Press publishes scholarly works on the United Nations system in the areas of peace studies, regional studies, technology and development, human and social development, international law, food and nutrition, energy technology, and natural resources and environment. The UNU Press publishes one periodical, The Food and Nutrition Bulletin, issued quarterly. UNU publications are distributed in North America by UNIPUB based in Lanham, Maryland.

UNU is supported by voluntary contributions from governments, foundations, and individuals. Its principal source of support is investment income from an endowment fund that ensures academic freedom and financial independence. The annual budget in 2005 was approximately us$ 40.7 million.


The University for Peace was established in 1980 in San Jose, Costa Rica, to promote postgraduate studies and research on peace. A General Assembly resolution called on member states, NGOs, and intergovernmental bodies, as well as interested individuals and organizations, to contribute to the university's Trust Fund.

In 2000, the University for Peace was in the process of major change and transition in which its programs, priorities, and administrative practices were being reviewed and a new strategy and program was being developed. At the time, its programs included Culture for Peace and Democracy in Central America; Natural Resources and Peace; Communications for Peace; Human Rights and Education for Peace; International World Center of Research and Information for Peace (in Montevideo, Uruguay); Gandhi Television Center for Communication and Peace; Radio for Peace International; and CEDIPAZ, a center for documentation and information for peace as well as the UPEACE library. In 2001 UPEACE's charter was amended, and master's programs were being offered in the following areas: Environmental Security and Peace; Gender and Peace Building; International Law and Human Rights; International Law and the Settlement of Disputes; International Peace Studies; Media, Conflict and Peace Studies; Natural Resources and Sustainable Development; and Peace Education.


The United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) was established by the Economic and Social Council in conformity with an earlier decision of the General Assembly, which was based on a recommendation made by the World Conference of the International Women's Year held in Mexico City from 19 June to 2 July 1975. In 1984, INSTRAW's statute, submitted by INSTRAW's Board of Trustees, its governing body, was approved by Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/124 and then by General Assembly resolution No. 39/249. INSTRAW is the only autonomous research and training vehicle at the international level in order to contribute to the advancement and mobilization of women in development, to raise awareness of women's issues worldwide, and to better assist women to meet new challenges and directions. INSTRAW has been based in Santo Domingo since 1983, at the invitation of the Government of the Dominican Republic.

INSTRAW and its work are governed by the Board of Trustees, which is composed of eleven members nominated by Member States and appointed by the Economic and Social Council, based on their personal capacity and the principle of equitable geographical distribution. A representative of the Secretary-General, the Director of the Institute, a representative of each of the Regional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council, and a representative of the Host Country are ex officio members of the Board of Trustees. The Institute and its work are funded by voluntary contributions received from States, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and private sources. The main responsibilities and tasks of the Board of Trustees are: to formulate principles, policies, and guidelines for the activities of the Institute; to consider and approve the work program and budget proposals of the Institute on the basis of recommendations submitted by the Director of the Institute; to make necessary or desirable recommendations for the operation of the Institute; and to report periodically to the Economic and Social Council and to the General Assembly.

INSTRAW's research and training programs are aimed at placing issues relevant to the advancement of women into the economic and political decision-making process. It does this by holding national training workshops and conducting joint research and training programs and projects in collaboration with specialized United Nations agencies, the Commission on the Status of Women, United Nations Focal Points for Women, and especially, regarding data and statistics, with the Statistical Division of the United States Secretariat. INSTRAW's training program, supported by data and its research findings, aims at developing training materials that will include women in the development process, especially in developing countries.

Two billion people in remote rural areas and urban slums of the developing worldhalf of whom are womenlack safe drinking water and even rudimentary sanitation facilities. Because of the critical need to address the question of water for human survival, INSTRAW produced in 1986, and updated in 1991, a training package on "Women, Water Supply and Sanitation," which has been the focus of ten national, regional, and international training seminars organized by the Institute from 1987 to 1994 in some African, Asian, and Latin American countries. The package illustrates the importance of women's participation on all aspects of water resources, including agriculture, human resources development and water resources management. INSTRAW's modular training program is crucial due to negative effects that water and sanitation problems have on a large number of the world's population.

Considering the importance of waste disposal for reasons of health and environmental sanitation, INSTRAW prepared an additional module to include in the "Women, Water Supply and Sanitation" package, aimed at sensitizing the decision makers on the needs and ways of including women in waste management schemes. Produced in 1994, the new training module of "Women and Waste Management" has been used in Namibia (first ever training seminar ever conducted in Namibia), Guyana, and Ecuador (where five national follow-up seminars were conducted with a total of 159 participants), with an average of 40 participants in each country. This training module presents an integrated approach to environmental sanitation and provides practical guidelines and checklists for integrating women at the designing, implementation, operation and maintenance, monitoring, and evaluation phases. The module provides numerous examples of successful community waste management and other initiatives in the area of environmental sanitation around the world.

The multimedia training package, "Women and New and Renewable Sources of Energy" (NRSE), was first developed by INSTRAW in 1989 (and updated in 1995). The main objective is to contribute with a new approach in the organization of NRSE systems by including women's needs as well as their participation in the planning, technical operations, maintenance, assessment, and implementation of environmentally sound NRSE programs and projects.

INSTRAW produced in 1995 a modular training package in "Women, Environmental Management and Sustainable Development." It was developed for senior officials of Ministries of Environment, Natural Resources, Planning, Women's Affairs, Education, Health; development planners and provincial or local authorities in charge of environmental programs and projects; engineers in charge of designing new technologies; university professors, trainers and managers of national training institutes and educational institutions training staff on various aspects of women, environmental management, and sustainable development, and representatives of nongovernmental and women's organizations involved in environmental projects.

In 1995, INSTRAW produced a training package on "Gender Statistics and Policy." The most important feature of this training package is that it is designed to provide statisticians and development planners with hands-on exercises on the actual use of existing data in policy designs. This package contains a pre-workshop module, which is designed to familiarize the users with gender issues and their relevance to National policy goals, better preparing them for the actual training; illustration of how gender-specific statistics and indicators affect policy goals/targets; computerized statistical policy models which visually describe direct impact of certain variables on target policy indicators. This module includes statistical models that can be adapted at the national level.

During 1993, INSTRAW adapted existing computer models in order to assist policy makers in understanding the relationship between certain sectoral policies and the advancement of women. This was completed in collaboration with the Population Division of the former Department of Economic and Social Development. The two models, entitled "Urban Women in Development Model" and "Rural Women in Development Model" are designed as teaching tools and conceptual framework that can serve as a basis for recognizing the multisectoral approach needed to ensure equitable participation of women and men in development. The models come with an instruction manual, sample exercises, and a computer diskette containing the program information.

The United Nations leadership in recognizing women's equal rights as prerequisite for their full participation in sustainable development is not as well known as it deserves to be. INSTRAW attempted to address this situation in the first module of the "Gender Training Portfolio," published in 1993. This Portfolio is designed to describe and disseminate information on women/gender and development for use in a variety of situations. As the world works toward the goal of sustainable development, people become more aware of the interaction of gender relations in development planning and its effect on the status of women worldwide. INSTRAW's aim is to promote the sharing and effective utilization of such knowledge to positively influence development policies and help make them more responsive to the needs of both women and men.

In 2004 and 2005, INSTRAW was carrying out a series of activities designed to measure the global progress made on the achievement of 12 critical areas set forth in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PfA) in 1995. The Beijing PfA was established by UN Member States during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. The 12 critical areas set forth in the PfA were: the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women; inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to education and training; inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to health care and related services; violence against women; the effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation; inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources; inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels; insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women; lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women; stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media; gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment; and persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child.


In 1976, the UN General Assembly established the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade for Women. The fund was created to provide direct support for women's projects and to promote the inclusion of women in the decision-making processes of mainstream development programs. In 1985 the New York-based organization formally joined the UN family of agencies as UNIFEM.

UNIFEM reports directly to the administrator of UNDP. It is overseen by a five-member Consultative Committee representing UN member states from the world's five principal regional groups. The committee approves large projects and advises on the use of the fund's resources. UNIFEM is administered by a director.

In order to support efforts of the women of the developing world to achieve their objective for economic and social development and for equality, and by so doing to improve the quality of life for women and men alike, the fund supports microprograms run by women in developing countries. For example, UNIFEM estimates that although women grow, process, and market between 50% and 80% of the food consumed in developing countries, governments rarely record these inputs or support them with financial credit. UNIFEM's programs include: training women in improved agricultural techniques; transfer of appropriate food technologies such as grinding mills, graters, oil presses, solar driers, and fish smokers; obtaining for women increased access to credit for seeds, fertilizers, and equipment; and support for microenterprises. UNIFEM works with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in assisting African refugees. At any one time it manages a portfolio of approximately 150 projects and has supported over 750 projects in 100 developing countries. As of 2006, UNIFEM focused its activities on four strategic areas: (1) feminized poverty, (2) ending violence against women, (3) reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls, and (4) achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war.

In 1991 UNIFEM collaborated on the publication of The World's Women 197090: The Trends and Statistics. Coauthored by the UN Statistical Office, UNICEF, and UNFPA, this publication gathered statistics and interpreted trends on women, families, and households; women in public life and leadership; the status of education and training for women; health and childbearing; housing, human settlements, and the environment; and women's work and the economy. In 2000, UNIFEM published a report tracking actions of the governments of the world in support of women's rights entitled Progress of the World's Women in 2000. In 2001, UNIFEM contributed analysis to frameworks UN agencies will use in evaluating gender equality. A new edition of Progress of the World's Women, entitled Progress 2002: Volume 2, was released in May 2003. Progress 2002 acknowledges the difficulty in analyzing international progress in the area of women's rights, and discusses the UN's Millennium Development Goals (set at the September 2000 Millennium Summit) in relation to gender equality.

Financing is provided by the governments of both industrialized and developing countries, by nongovernmental organizations, foundations, corporations, private individuals, and from UNIFEM's growing number of national committees. The budget for the year ending 31 December 2004 saw UNIFEM take in $51.15 million in total income, and expend $32.431 million. The excess income of $18.719 million was allocated to multiyear-funded projects which last through 2006.

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