Geneva, Switzerland, (25 December 2012) -
South Sudan, the African landlocked country created in 2011, has been designated a least developed country (LDC) by the United Nations General Assembly. More than half the nation’s population of 8.3 million is estimated to live in absolute poverty and to suffer from malnourishment.
The designation, approved on 18 December, increases the number of LDCs to 49. Countries belonging to the category are entitled to various concessions, such as preferential trade status, as decided by development partners – usually industrialized nations. They also receive increased foreign aid and technical assistance in their attempts to reduce poverty.
South Sudan declared independence on 9 July 2011 after more than two decades of conflict between northern and southern parts of Sudan.
UNCTAD’s Division on Africa, Least Developed Countries, and Special Programmes carries out numerous research and technical assistance activities aimed at helping LDCs. The organization played a central role in the establishment of the category by the United Nations in 1971
Three countries have “graduated” from LDC status: Botswana in 1994, Cape Verde in 2007, and the Maldives in 2011. Three more are likely to do so in 2014 or 2015: Equatorial Guinea, Samoa, and Vanuatu. In addition to South Sudan this year, Senegal and Timor-Leste were the most recent additions to the list. Senegal was designated an LDC in 2001 and Timor-Leste in 2003.
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