The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is a UN body responsible for dealing with development issues, particularly international trade.
Its work focuses on the following main areas: least developed countries and special programmes; globalisation, interdependence and development; international trade and commodities; investment and enterprise; and technology and trade logistics. This work often results in analyses and recommendations that can inform the national and international policy making processes, and contribute to promoting economic policies aimed at ending global economic inequalities and generating people-centred sustainable development.
UNCTAD also functions as a forum for dialogue on economic issues among representatives of its 194 member states. In addition, the organisation provides technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, helping them to build the capacities they need to become equitably integrated into the global economy and improve the well-being of their populations.
UNCTAD is particularly active in the field of e-commerce, as well as in research and capacity-building focusing on the relevance of information and communication technologies to development. Thorugh initiatives such as the ICT Policy Review Programme, the organisation assists and advises governments of developing and transition economies on how to design and implement ICT policies and strategies aimed to promote information society and a national level and to encourage their increased participation in the global information economy. It assists developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America in their efforts to establish legal frameworks for efficient and effective e-commerce and e-government services. It also works to promote the bridging of the gender digital divide in terms of empowering women to benefit from the opportunities offered by ICTs. In addition, UNCTAD analyses ICT trends and policies and publishes an annual Information Economy Report which assesses the role of new technologies in trade and development.
UNCTAD acts a host for the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), which provides advice to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN General Assembly on science and technology issues. It also holds the chairmanship for the the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), which serves as an inter-agency mechanism for 29 international agencies to improve collaboration towards the achievement of the objectives set at the World Summit on the Information Society.
UNCTAD has been a regular participant in the annual meetings of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).