The Disinherited: the plight of the least developed countries
The plight of the 275 million people living in the world's poorest and economically weakest countries is the theme of this Issue of the Unesco Courier. It was also the subject of a United Nations Conference held at Unesco's Paris headquarters from 1 to 14 September, 1981.
Addressing the Conference, United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim declared: "In the current world economic crisis, it is the least developed countries which are particularly vulnerable... For the accelerated growth of the developing countries and particularly the least developed amongst them, a much stronger political will and a sense of shared responsibility on the part of the entire international community is a prime necessity... Given determination, political vision and international co-operation, it is certainly possible to render significant assistance to these countries in finding solutions to their economic problems. They must be given the means to break out of the vicious trap of poverty and deprivation."
The issue presents a dossier on the appalling problems facing the Least Developed Countries. The necessarily brief reports are based on summaries prepared by the secretariat of the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries on the basis of presentations made by the countries concerned. A deliberate choice was made to present the current situation of each country and to exclude the detailed development plans drawn up by countries themselves. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the Least Developed Countries, without exception, are themselves making tremendous efforts against virtually impossible odds to remedy a situation which dishonours the entire world.