Fifty Years of Least Developed Countries. Rationale and Impact of a Differential Treatment

December 08, 2021, En ligne / Virtual event

50 years after the creation of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Category, and in the lead up to the 5th UN Conference on the LDCs, we are holding a meeting to analyse the impact this decision has had and if it is still valid today.

Organisation : FERDI, UN OHRLLS, OECD Development Center, French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs


2:00-2:30 pm (CET)

Courtenay Rattray, UN, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS)

Philippe Lacoste, Director of Sustainable Development, French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs

Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Director, OECD Development Centre

Patrick Guillaumont, President, Foundation for Studies and Research on International Development (FERDI)

50 years later: The rationale of the LDC category and its criteria, still valid. Why and how to differentiate between developing countries?
2:30-3:45 pm (CET)

This session will first consider the rationale of the category, its evolution over half a century, its present relevance as the only category officially recognized to mobilize international support and the robustness of the principles and criteria on which it is based.

Second, the session will consider the usefulness of the LDCs category, itself relying on criteria, compared to a differentiation only driven by continuous criteria, and it will show the role that the LDC identification criteria may play beyond the identification process of LDCs. 

Third, while vulnerability more and more appears as a major issue for LDCs, the session may have to also consider whether the LDC category and criteria can be adapted to address the new challenges of insecurity and climate change?  And what role a multidimensional and universal vulnerability index, as prepared by the UNSG, can play in this?


Patrick Guillaumont,
  President, Foundation for Studies and Research on International Development (FERDI)


Jose Antonio Ocampo,
Professor at Columbia University, President of the Committee for Development Policy at UN CDP.

HE Ambassador Perks Ligoya, Permanent Representative of Malawi to UN, Chair of the LDC Group.

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat.

Myriam Ferran, Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for International Partnerships INTPA at European Union.

Khondker M. Talha, Ambassador & Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Embassy of Bangladesh in France.


The impact of the category membership on the development of LDCs. What makes differentiation effective?
4:00-5:15 pm (CET)

This session will focus on what can be scientifically argued about the impact of membership in the category on the development of member countries. In spite of the methodological difficulties of assessing impact, which explains the paucity of research on the subject, several research findings can be advanced in favor of such an impact. Three main research findings and their policy implications will be briefly presented and discussed in three "mini-panels" of 20 minutes each, followed by a 15-minute discussion with the audience.

Moderator: Matthieu Boussichas,  Program Manager, FERDI

Overall impact of support measures on growth and poverty: When and how it may be seen as having overcome the impact of structural handicaps


Jean-Louis Arcand, Professor, University of Geneva - Senior Fellow at FERDI.

Alassane Drabo, Research Officer, FERDI. 


Youssoufou Hamadou Daouda, Professor Université de Tahoua.

Larba Issa Kobyagda, Research Professor, University of Ouaga II - Director General of Economy and Planning, Ministry of Economy, Finance and Development of Burkina Faso.

To what extent more and better ODA has been attracted by LDCs due to their status?


Lisa Chauvet, Professor, Université Paris I - Senior Fellow at FERDI.


Fahmida Khatun, Executive director of Center for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD.

Reversal of the trade marginalization of LDCs: Thanks to their status? 


Laurent Wagner, Research Officer, FERDI. 


Dirk Willem te Velde, Director of Programmes, ODI

Matthias Bruckner, Senior Economist, CDP Secretariat, UN DESA 


Reducing structural barriers yesterday, today and tomorrow
4:00-5:15 pm (CET)

The final panel will discuss the extent to which LDC membership has reduced the structural handicaps of LDCs and how international support measures can be improved.


Moderator: Federico Bonaglia, Deputy Director, OECD Development Centre

Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD

Xiangchen Zhang, Deputy Director General of WTO

HE Sandra Ablamba Johnson, Minister, Secretary General of the Presidency of the Togolese Republic.

Elliott Carlton Harris, Chief Economist of UN DESA

Remarks by

Manuel Escudero, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Spain to the OECD and Chairman of the OECD Development Centre.  

6:00 pm (CET)