The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations family responsible for promoting industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition, for poverty reduction and Sustainable development.


Stemming from a program on the industrialization of developing countries launched by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) in 1956, created by resolution 2152 of November 17, 1966 of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) in as a subsidiary body, UNIDO became on 1 January 1986 a specialized agency of the United Nations system, thanks to the entry into force on 21 June 1985 of the Constitutive Act adopted in Vienna on 8 April 1976. She was responsible for the creation of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Vienna in 1967.

Since the 1990s, several countries (United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia) have chosen to withdraw from UNIDO. Notified in 2013, France’s withdrawal has been effective since January 1, 2015. UNIDO currently has 168 member states.


The main objective of UNIDO is to promote and accelerate industrial development in developing countries, particularly in the least developed countries. In line with the Millennium Development Goals, the 3 strategic priorities of UNIDO are as follows:

1/Poverty reduction through productive activities;
2/Business capacity building through the promotion of investment and technology.
3/Energy and environment: through technical assistance programs to enable industrial development that meets criteria for sustainable development. UNIDO thus launched in 2009 an initiative for the green industry aiming to support the transformation of existing industrial structures to make them “greener” (renewable energies, energy efficiency, recycling, limitation of the wasting of resources, reduction of carbon) as well as the creation of a new industry more respectful of the environment.


UNIDO has three governing bodies:

1/The General Conference (CG), composed of all members, meets once every two years. It determines the principles and orientations of UNIDO and approves budgets and programs. It elects the Director General (every four years) and the members of the Industrial Development Board and the Program and Budget Committee.
2/The Industrial Development Board (CDI) is made up of 53 members elected by the CG for four years on the principle of equitable geographic representation. It reviews the implementation of the program and the budget and makes recommendations to the CG. It meets once a year in General Conference years and twice in other years.
3/The Program and Budget Committee (CPB), composed of 27 members elected by the CG for two years, meets once a year. It is a subsidiary body of the CDI which assists it in the preparation and examination of programs, budgets and other financial matters.

The current managing director is Mr. Li Yong, a Chinese national. He was elected on June 28, 2013 and re-elected in office on November 27, 2017.

France and UNIDO

France has been a member of UNIDO since its creation in 1966. In 2013, it was the third contributor to the regular budget of the organization with a contribution of 7.14 million €. It was also one of the top five voluntary contributors with more than 22 million US $ over the period 2002-2012.

Among the French institutions which have regularly financed technical assistance activities of UNIDO, notably include: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (which provided, in particular, the financing of the office for the promotion of investments and technology in France), the French Development Agency (AFD), the French Global Environment Facility.

France’s withdrawal

In 2013, France officially notified its withdrawal from the organization. This withdrawal is based on an overall assessment of the performance of the international system. It followed the departure of several countries (United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, etc.) from UNIDO and preceded the announcement of the withdrawal of other countries (Portugal, Belgium) from this organization.

This withdrawal is not the first step in a broader disengagement. France has remained a pillar of the multilateral system. This withdrawal did not call into question the image of France as a reliable support of the United Nations and multilateralism. France wishes to redefine the methodology and the scale of quotas and promote new management rules that are more economical and more responsible for international organizations. It’s about being more efficient, less redundant and more sustainable.

With regard to the investment and technology promotion offices in Paris and Marseille, their impact has been assessed as insufficient with regard to the financial investment made by France and the constituent agreements have been denounced accordingly as soon as 2012, resulting in the closure of these offices on April 30, 2013. France’s withdrawal from UNIDO, effective since January 1, 2015, does not call into question France’s commitment to economic and social development, human development and sustainable development or French policies and ambitions in terms of official development assistance.

Dernière modification : 26/03/2020

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