Assistance to the Palestinian people

UNCTAD's work on the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory began in 1979, following UNCTAD resolution 109 (V), which requested the Secretary-General of UNCTAD to initiate studies as regards the Palestinian people in collaboration with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), representing the Palestinian people.

In 1985, an Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit was established by UNCTAD resolution 146 (VI) to set up a special economic unit to monitor and investigate policies of the Israeli occupation and its impact on the living conditions of the Palestinian people. The mandate was upheld by the General Assembly decision 47/455 of 1992.

Following the Oslo Peace Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, UNCTAD initiated a programme of technical assistance to support Palestinian economic development and institution building efforts. UNCTAD continues to provide vital support to the Palestinian public and private sector in key areas, including customs modernization, trade facilitation, debt management, small and medium enterprises, training and economic modeling and forecasting. 

UNCTAD's role as the UN focal point for Palestinian trade and development issues has been acknowledged and re-endorsed by the UN General Assembly (GA) Resolution A/RES/69/20 (2014), in which paragraph 9 requests UNCTAD to “report to the General Assembly on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people". This was affirmed by paragraph 9 in resolutions A/Res/70/12 (2015), A/Res/71/20 (2016), A/Res/72/13 (2017) and A/RES/73/18 (2018). These resolutions also call for the exertion of all efforts to secure the required resources and for the coordination of inputs from relevant UN bodies and agencies for UNCTAD to report to the GA.

For over three decades, UNCTAD has been supporting the Palestinian people by relevant policy-oriented studies, technical cooperation projects, advisory services and building international consensus on their development needs.

UNCTAD’s programme of assistance to the Palestinian people aims to build and strengthen the institutional capacities of the Palestinian public and the private sectors required for building a robust economy to underpin the future independent Palestinian State and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The programme addresses the Palestinian economy’s needs through four clusters:

  1. Trade policies and strategies

  2. Trade facilitation and logistics

  3. Finance and development

  4. Enterprise, investment and competition policy

Development Challenges

UNCTAD’s programme focuses on setting the Palestinian economy on a path of recovery and sustained growth requires creative solutions that tailor the development process not only to the economy´s present distinctive features and institutional set-up, but also to the strategic imperatives of national sovereignty and State formation. This requires addressing the prevailing inherent constraints, which stem mainly from occupation conditions. Most notable among these constraints:

  • Absence of national sovereignty

  • Territorial fragmentation

  • Prolonged Blockade of the Gaza Strip

  • Outdated and inappropriate policy framework established by the 1994 Paris protocol

  • Severely limited economic policy space

  • Absence of a national currency

  • Vulnerability to external shocks

  • Extremely limited access water and natural resources

  • Israel’s control of more than 60% of the West Bank in what is called area “C”

  • Restrictions on access and movements of goods and people

  • Poor market access conditions and effective landlocked status (No seaports or airports)

  • Inadequate physical infrastructures

  • Erosion of productive base due to repeated military operations, destruction of economic assets and the duel use list system