As compared to many other organizations involved in trade and trade-related technical assistance, UNCTAD has predominantly "customized" operations, since its projects are usually designed after consultations with donors and beneficiaries, and only a few initiatives (such as some training courses) are "standardized" products. Tailor-made operations designed in response to specific demands ensure ownership and successful results.
UNCTAD's assistance is flexible
because it can be adapted to the evolving needs and topics of the trade and development agenda. New issues and priorities such as those emphasized by the Accra Accord
(AA) can be incorporated into current activities, thanks again to the ongoing research work that is used as the main substantive input for UNCTAD projects.
UNCTAD's accountability towards donors matches the fragmented structure of the operations; Regularly each donor receives financial and progress reports on each of the projects financed with its contributions. This ensures an official reporting procedure that complements the regular contacts between project officers and other staff members involved in operations and the donors' authorities at all stages of the operations: from design until evaluation.
Enhancing the institutional and negotiating capacity of developing countries in order to develop endogenous trade and development policies is one of the main goals of many UNCTAD projects.
UNCTAD's multidisciplinary approach, combining legal and economic components of trade and related topics, facilitates the design of operations addressing several interrelated aspects of competition laws, trade rules, investment agreements, electronic commerce, trade logistics, etc.. Almost all the mandates contained in the SPC are couched in multidisciplinary terms. However, institutional and negotiating capacities require a sustained, comprehensive and long-term effort that is at odds with short-term operations.
Interagency cooperation and participation of local civil society are frequently part of UNCTAD projects. In fact, many activities are designed according to a clear division of labour involving, for example, local producers of commodities, national public and private entities, and academic institutions. More inter-agency cooperation could be envisaged at the international, regional and country levels, but with the exception of JITAP and the Integrated Framework, UNCTAD's funds are allocated to specific projects and are therefore not easily transferable to other activities, which raises practical obstacles in this regard. The CEB Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity shows how UNCTAD implements interagency cooperation.
As reaffirmed in the AA, UNCTAD's technical cooperation will continue to play a key role as one of the three pillars of the organization. The content and modalities of UNCTAD assistance are constantly evolving, reflecting both donors' and beneficiaries' concerns. Many innovations and improvements have been introduced in UNCTAD's technical cooperation in recent years - most of them producing positive managerial and substantive results. Further improvements may be required in order to keep UNCTAD up to date from the point of view of the new topics emerging in the trade and development arenas and efficient from the point of view of the impact of its work on development.