Press Release

Change of Dates for UNCTAD 15 Conference

11 December 2020

Bridgetown, Barbados – The UNCTAD 15 Conference will now be held in Barbados from 3 to 8 October 2021.

The Conference is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and is held every four (4) years. Its 15th Session was initially scheduled to be held in Barbados from 18 to 23 October 2020, but the dates were later pushed back to 25 to 30 April 2021 because of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in the interim, many of UNCTAD’s 195 member countries have been experiencing new waves of the pandemic, and have seen the re-introduction of measures such as lockdowns and other restrictions. Situated in Geneva, Switzerland, the UNCTAD Secretariat itself has been affected by these pandemic mitigation measures.

Prime Minister of Barbados, The Hon. Mia Mottley, explains that: “After careful consideration of the current worldwide situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and following consultation between the Host Country and the UNCTAD Secretariat, the joint decision has been taken to reschedule the Conference. When we agreed earlier this year to postpone the Conference to April 2021, we did not foresee this trajectory of the pandemic. We take very seriously the health and safety of all who will participate in the Conference – Barbadians and visitors alike.”

During the Conference, policymakers will assess the current trade and development issues, discuss policy options and formulate global responses to the challenges affecting Member States – particularly developing states. As is customary, the Conference will also set the organization’s mandate and work priorities for the next four years.

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, made reference to the fact that: “Lockdowns and delays have impeded the progress of substantive negotiations in Geneva. We have reviewed the calendar of the United Nations and related international organisations for the next several months, and have agreed on these new dates as being the most suitable.”

Prime Minister Mottley states that: “Work on hosting UNCTAD 15 is well advanced, and the planning will continue apace. We are heartened by the encouraging news in relation to the vaccines which are being rolled out, and anticipate that the world will be in a much better public health position by October next year. We are cautiously optimistic that we can deliver a safe and secure Conference then.”

The six forums which will precede the Conference will now take place on the 1, 2 and on the morning of 3 October 2021.