Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the decade 2011-2020

11 May 2011


1. The least developed countries, consisting of 48 countries with a total  population of 880 million, represent the poorest and weakest segment of the  international community. Least developed countries are characterized by constraints  such as low per capita income, low level of human development, and economic and  structural handicaps to growth that limit resilience to vulnerabilities.

2. In the decade since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action in 2001,  least developed countries have made some progress in economic, social and human  development. In this regard, we welcome the efforts made by least developed  countries themselves and their development partners. However, there is no room for  complacency, as more than 75 per cent of the least developed countries’ population  still live in poverty. It is a matter of deep concern to the international community  that only three countries have graduated out of this category so far in the past three  decades. 

3. The least developed countries continue to have the lowest per capita incomes  and the highest population growth rates. They are the most off track in the  achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the  Millennium Development Goals, and are at the bottom of the Human Development  Index rankings. Least developed countries have been unable to overcome their  economic vulnerability and structurally transform their economies or build  resilience against internal and external shocks and crisis.

4. Least developed countries’ productive capacity is limited, and they have severe  infrastructure deficits. Similarly, least developed countries continue to struggle with  improving human and social development. Some developed countries lack adequate  governance capacities and institutions, including those emerging from conflict.

5. An evidence-based appraisal of the implementation of the Brussels Programme  of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010 confirms  that a more strategic, comprehensive, and sustained approach based on ambitious, focused and realistic commitments is required to bring about structural  transformation in least developed countries that fosters accelerated, sustained,  inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development and helps  least developed countries meet long-standing as well as emerging challenges.

6. Since the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries,  the international economic and development landscape has been evolving, with an  expansion of the number of partners and actors and more complex aid, economic  and financial architecture.

7. In addition, new challenges have emerged. The international community has  been challenged by multiple and interrelated crises, including the ongoing impact of  the financial and economic crisis, volatile energy and food prices and ongoing  concerns over food security, as well as the increasing challenges posed by climate  change and the loss of biodiversity, which all have increased vulnerabilities and  inequalities and have adversely affected development gains in least developed  countries.

8. Solidarity, cooperation and partnership with the least developed countries, the  poorest, most vulnerable and weakest countries and their people are not only moral  imperatives, they are also economic and political ones. Least developed countries represent an enormous human and natural resource potential for world economic growth, welfare, prosperity and food and energy security. A successful renewed and strengthened global partnership that effectively addresses the special needs of least developed countries will contribute to the cause of peace, prosperity and sustainable development for all.

9. In addition to the outcomes of previous United Nations Conferences on the Least Developed Countries, the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development, the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg Plan of Implementation), the 2005 World Summit Outcome, the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and the outcome document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals have reaffirmed that least developed countries deserve particular attention and welltargeted support measures to eradicate poverty, accelerate economic growth, achieve sustainable development and overcome their vulnerabilities.

10. The Programme of Action for the decade 2011 to 2020 represents the enhanced commitments of the least developed countries, which have the ownership and primary responsibility for their own development, and their development partners to a renewed and strengthened global partnership.


  • Introduction
  • Review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action
  • Renewed and strengthened partnership for development
  • Priority areas for action
  • The complementary role of South-South cooperation in the implementation of this Programme of Action
  • Graduation and smooth transition
  • Implementation, follow-up and monitoring
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  • Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 English