Set up in 1966, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
Initially a programme focussing on the industrialisation of developing countries, UNIDO was launched by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1956, and then created as a subsidiary body on November 17th, 1966 by General Assembly (UNGA)’s Resolution 2152. On January 1st, 1986, it became a specialised agency within the United Nations system thanks to the enforcement of the UNIDO Constitution adopted in Vienna on April 8th, 1976. It led to the creation of the United Nations Office in Vienna in 1967.
Since the 1990s, several countries have chosen to withdraw from UNIDO: the United States of America, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, New-Zealand… In 2013, France also notified its withdrawal from the Organisation, which took effect on January 1st, 2015.
The mandate of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is to promote and accelerate sustainable industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition. In accordance with the Sustainable Development Objectives, the Organization focuses on three main thematic areas:
Poverty reduction through productive activities
Trade capacity-building by promoting investment and technology
Energy and environment thanks to technical assistance programmes that foster an industrial development in line with sustainability criteria. In 2009, UNIDO launched an initiative for green industry aiming at supporting the transformation of existing industrial structures to make them “greener” (renewable energies, energetic efficiency, recycling, limiting the waste of resources, reducing carbon emissions), but also at creating a new, environment-friendlier industry.
UNIDO is run by two policy-making bodies and one subsidiary organ:
The General Conference of Parties, which comprises all the Member States, meets every two years. It determines UNIDO’s principles and orientations and approves the budget and programmes. Furthermore, it elects the Director General (every four years) and the members of the Industrial Development Board and of the Budget and Programme Committee.
The Industrial Development Board (IDB) comprises 53 members which are elected every four years by the General Conference on the basis of a fair geographical representation. It reviews the implementation of the programmes and budgets and makes recommendations to the General Cconference. It meets once a year when there is a General Conference, and twice a year when there is not.
The Programme and Budget Committee (PBD) meets once a year. Its 27 members are elected by the GC for a two-year term. It is a subsidiary organ of the IDB which provides assistance in the preparation and review of programmes, budgets and other financial matters.
The incumbent Director General of UNIDO is M. Li Yong, of China. He was elected on June 28th, 2013 and re-elected for a second term in 2017.
France and UNIDO
France’s activities as a Member State of UNIDO
France has been a Member State of UNIDO since its creation in 1996. In 2013, it was the third biggest contributor to the regular budget, with 7,14M €. It was also one of the first five voluntary contributors, having paid more than USD 22M during the years 2002-2012.
The French institutions which regularly contributed to UNIDO’s technical assistance activities were are, among others: the French Foreign Office (which, in particular, provided funding for the Investment and Technology Promotion Office in France), the French Development Agency (AFD), and the French Facility for Global Environment.
In 2013, France officially notified its withdrawal from UNIDO. This decision took place in a global evaluation of the international system. It followed the withdrawal of several countries (United States, Canada, Australia, United-Kingdom…) and was followed by the announcement of further departures (Portugal, Belgium) from the Organisation.
This withdrawal should not be understood as the first step of a global disengagement: France remains a pillar of the multilateral system and its image as a reliable support for the United Nations system has not been damaged. France wishes for a redesign of the methodology and the scale of assessment, and supports new, more efficient and more responsible management rules for the international organisations, the aim being a more effective, less redundant and more sustainable system.
Regarding the Investment and Technology Promotion Offices in Paris and Marseille, the impact was deemed insufficient with respect to the financial investment agreed by France. Thus, the constitutive conventions were denounced as soon as 2012, and the Offices were shut down as of April 30th, 2013. France’s withdrawal from UNIDO, which will took ake force on January 1st, 2015, doesn’t call into question France’s commitment for economic and social development, human development and sustainable development, or France’s policies regarding official development assistance.