You are here: UNA-UK advisors urge UN Secretary-General to appoint strong UNCTAD leader

21 January 2013

Public officials, leading academics and former senior UN staff members have signed an open letter urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint an internationally respected person as the new chief of UNCTAD, the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

With 140 signatures, including those of UNA-UK advisors Sir Richard Jolly and Dame Margaret Anstee, the letter argues that a weak appointment will further reduce UNCTAD's impact at a time when a strong voice is required to ensure developing countries benefit from the increasingly globalised economy. 

Extract from the letter:

"The world clamours for innovative economic thinking that charts a sustainable way out of the current crisis and that contributes to development and poverty reduction. We would regard the capacity to stimulate such thinking and to articulate the resulting policy approaches in the relevant forums as the single most important consideration when sifting among possible candidates in the requisite consultations with member states. The growing weight of developing countries in global matters requires an intellectually outstanding personality as the new leader of UNCTAD."

Click here to read the full letter

Ban Ki-moon will appoint UNCTAD's new Secretary-General later this year to succeed Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, who has held the post since 2005. 

More about UNCTAD

The UN Conference on Trade and Development emerged in the 1960s in response to growing concerns about the impacts of international trade on developing countries, and their place within global trade initiatives. The first conference was held in 1964 and UNCTAD was subsequently institutionalised to meet every four years, with a permanent secretariat headed by a Secretary-General.

UNCTAD serves as the UN focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development. As such, it works with a number of other bodies within and outside the UN system, including the World Trade Organisation and UN Development Programme.

Early tasks of the body included providing an integovernmental forum for North-South dialogue; launching agreements on issues such as international commodities and developing-country market access; and negotiating trade and competition policies. It was also a key contributor to the target on overseas development assistance adopted by the General Assembly in 1970 (0.7% of GDP).

In later years, UNCTAD began to focus on issues such as development economics, least developed countries, debt, South-South cooperation and investment flows, including foreign direct invesement. It also supported negotiations on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which eventually led to the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.

Click here for more information on UNCTAD
Picture: Current UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi (UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)