Aiming high, falling short: the Least Developed Country (LDC) category at 40

Djalita Fialho de Oliveira Ramos

Research output: Working paperAcademic


This paper analyses the motivation behind the UN decision to establish the LDC category in 1971. The reviewed literature highlights conflicting interests of the actors involved. It provides a historical account of the creation of the category and an international political economy analysis of that process. Based on this literature, I argue that the initial LDC identification process - which set a precedent for future LDC categorizations - was manipulated in order to generate a reduced list of small and economically and politically insignificant countries. Contrary to the LDC official narrative, this list served the interests of both donors (by undermining UN’s implicit effort to normalize international assistance) and other non-LDC developing countries (disturbed by the creation of a positive discrimination within the group, favouring the most disadvantaged among them). As a result of this manipulation, considerably less development-promoting efforts are demanded from donors; which, in turn, does not significantly distress the interests of other non-LDC, more advanced developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers series. General series

Bibliographical note

ISSN: 0921-0210


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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