Transport policy and legislation


As part of its mandate on trade logistics, UNCTAD carries out substantive research and analysis on a wide range of legal and policy issues affecting transport and trade. Where appropriate, formal and informal meetings convened by UNCTAD also provide an important forum for discussion of relevant issues by member States, public and private sector stakeholders and other experts. Technical assistance, advice and guidance on legal and policy issues is provided upon request.

Substantive areas of work include international maritime and transport law, as well as a range of policy issues of relevance to sustainable transport. Since 2008, one area of focus has been on the implications of climate change for maritime transport, with special emphasis on climate change impacts and adaptation for transport infrastructure and the need to enhance the climate-resilience of transport systems. Publications include a dedicated chapter with a focus on legal issues and regulatory developments as part of UNCTAD’s annual flagship report “Review of Maritime Transport”, as well as substantive analytical reports on topical issues, and contributions to UNCTAD’s Transport and Trade Facilitation Newsletter.

Cooperation with other agencies and engagement in collaborative efforts and initiatives include, among others UN-Oceans, the IMO, UNCITRAL, UNEP, UNFCCC, UN regional commissions, and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

For further information and feedback, contact the Policy and Legislation Section at:

For an historical overview of UNCTAD's activities in the field of shipping, see Beyond Conventional Wisdom in Development Policy: An intellectual history of UNCTAD 1964-2004



Review of Maritime Transport 2023

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 on Legal Issues and Regulatory Developments has the following sections:

  1. Regulatory developments may facilitate the future use of electronic bills of lading.
  2. Growing importance of regulatory measures under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation to combat pollution from ships in the context of the 2030 Agenda.
  3. Other legal and regulatory developments affecting transportation in 2023 and beyond.
  4. Status of conventions.
  5. Outlook and policy recommendations.

Download Chapter 5