International Development Law Organization

Investment Support Programme for Least Developed Countries

The Investment Support Programme for the LDCs (ISP/LDCs) is an innovative IDLO program intended to support the LDCs in their efforts to increase foreign direct investments (FDI) and the benefits they derive from such investments. It was developed by the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), in cooperation with IDLO and with generous assistance from the Government of Italy and was launched at an event on 22 September at UN Headquarters, NY, during the General Debate in the UN General Assembly.

Responding to the special needs of the LDCs in relation to foreign direct investments was identified as a priority in the United Nations Programme of Action for the LDCs for the Decade 2011 – 2020 and in the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The instrumental role of FDI in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the LDCs is recognized in goal 10/target 10.b, which stresses the importance to encourage FDI to the LDCs in accordance with their national plans.

The 47 least developed countries are the world’s poorest countries and typically they, and much of their private sector, do not have the human and financial resources to participate effectively in investment-related negotiations and secure the most favorable results for their economies and people.

Foreign direct investments may generate income, jobs, and technological upgrading and contribute to the sustainable development of LDCs. But, unbalanced investment projects, contracts and agreements may lead to serious implementation problems and disputes that often end up in international arbitration, disrupting the relationship between the investment partners. This entails considerable costs for the parties involved, be they governments, domestic firms or foreign investors. Well-negotiated and fair investment projects, contracts and agreements are in the long-term interest of all parties.

About the program

The Investment Programme aims to provide on-demand legal and professional assistance to governments of the LDCs and under-resourced LDC firms to help them in investment-related negotiations and dispute settlement. The program's objective is to establish an international scheme for legal aid and expert assistance.

More specifically, the program will provide negotiation and dispute-settlement advisory and representation services to requesting LDC governments and eligible private sector entities though arranging for multi-disciplinary teams to assist them in preparing for, and conducting, negotiations and participating in arbitral proceedings or alternative dispute resolution methods. The program will also arrange complementary training and capacity building activities on demand.

The ISP/LDCs will harness the services of lawyers and other experts (e.g. in tax management, tendering and procurement, accounting and financial analysis, environmental management) who are ready to provide support to the LDCs on a “pro-bono” or reduced-fee basis, including in the context of corporate social responsibility initiatives of the organizations to which they are affiliated, thus catalyzing the readiness of professionals worldwide to contribute their expertise to the sustainable development of the poorest members of the international community.

The program is aimed at benefiting the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) listed below:

Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zambia.

Program Outline    Initiative Overview    Description du programme    Aperçu de l'initiative     About LDCs     Conference Report



UN and IDLO launch new Investment Support Programme for the Least Developed Countries

Launch of the Investment Support Programme for the Least Developed Countries: Summary of the debate

Video: Event live webcast



Opening with H.E. Fekitamoeloa KatoaUtoikamanu, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for the LDCs, UN-OHRLLS Irene Khan, Director-General, IDLO Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, Vice-President, International Court of Justice Stefano Manservisi, Director-General for International Cooperation & Development, European Union H.E. Jamal Mohamed Hassan, Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Federal Republic of Somalia

H.E. Dr. Isatou Touray, Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Republic of the Gambia

Luigi De Chiara, Minister Plenipotentiary, Directorate of Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy Prof. Surya Subedi, University of Leeds Mamadou Hebié, University of Leiden Paola di Rosa, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
​Kyi Kyi Than Aung, Director of the Commercial Contracts Division, Union Attorney General’s Office Myanmar Grant Hanessian, Baker and McKenzie Kabir Duggal, Baker and McKenzie Won Kindane, Seattle University Law School Maria B. Deli, Italian Association for Arbitration
Robert Howse, New York University Law School        


Representative of UNCTAD Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration  Kazi M. Aminul Islam, Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority Representative of Cambodia Representative of Eritrea
Representative of the International Chamber of Commerce