The fourteenth session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD14) is scheduled to start on 17 July and will be lasting until 22 July in Nairobi, Kenya. The quadrennial Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the UNCTAD which sets its mandate and work priorities for the next four years. The core mandate of the UNCTAD is to defend the development interests of the developing countries through policy analysis/research/advice, technical cooperation and inter-governmental consensus building. The UNCTAD has an historic role in contributing to the identification of the LDC category in 1971 within the developing countries, in order to draw special development attention to these countries in special situations with special needs.

The UNCTAD14 Civil Society Forum opened today 15 July, two days in advance of the official Ministerial Conference. The opening panel was addressed by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General, UNCTAD; Alvin Mosioma, Executive Director, Tax Justice Network - Africa; Prerna Bomzan, Advocacy Co-ordinator, LDC Watch; Dereje Alemaheyu, Chair, Global Alliance for Tax Justice and Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director, FEMNET. The session was chaired by Lidy Nacpil, Co-ordinator, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).

Prerna Bomzan, Advocacy Co-ordinator highlighted further strengthening of the UNCTAD's mandate to defend the interests of the LDCs given its historical role and morever, when majority of the 34 LDCs are in Africa. The fact that the interests of the developing countries including LDCs were totally eroded by political resistance from developed countries in all recent international negotiations and agreements in 2015 - the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), the SDGs, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) and the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (MC10) - calls for the UNCTAD14 to deliver without fail especially when it is being hosted on Africa soil!