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UN Documentation: Development

Introduction, 1946-1959

UN Photo 139559: Decretary-General Dag Hammarskjold,  General Assembly President Dr. Charles Malik (Lebanon), and Andrew Cordier of the Secretariat.

During the early years of the UN, development emerged through provision of technical assistance and the work of the Specialized Agencies. As more member states joined the UN from around the globe, they brought new perspectives about development to discussions at the UN.

In 1958, the General Assembly established the Special Fund, a predecessor of the UN Development Fund (A/RES/1219 (XII)). The resolution says, in part:

"The General Assembly, In conformity with the determination of the United Nations, as expressed in its Charter, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends, to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples... [decides to establish a] Special Fund which would provide systematic and sustained assistance in fields essential to the integrated technical, economic and social development of the less developed countries".

Key events, documents and resolutions, 1946-1959


  • Trygve Lie appointed Secretary-General 
  • Specialized Agency agreements with:
    • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    • International Labour Organization (ILO)
    • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


  • Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) established by E/RES/36 (IV) of 28 Mar. 1947
  • Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE, later ESCAP) established by E/RES/37 (IV) of 28 Mar. 1947
  • Specialized Agency agreements with:
    • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
    • International Monetary Fund (IMF)


  • A/RES/200 (III) : Technical assistance for economic development
  • A/RES/217 (III) : International Bill of Human Rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL) established by E/RES/106 (VI) of 15 Mar. 1948
  • Specialized Agency agreements with:
    • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) called World Bank
    • Universal Postal Union (UPU)
    • World Health Organization (WHO)


  • A/RES/304 (IV) : Expanded Programme for Technical Assistance
  • Specialized Agency agreement with International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • National and international measures for full employment : Report by a Group of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General (E/1584)



  • Specialized Agency agreement with World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • Measures for the Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries: Report by a Group of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General  (E/1986)
  • Measures for international economic stability : Report by a Group of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General (E/2156-ST/ECA/13;1951.II.A.2)



  • World Population Conference (1st)
  • International Flow of Private Capital, 1946-1952 (E/2531; 1954.II.D.1)
  • Processes and Problems of Industrialization in Under-Developed Countries (E/2670-ST/ECA/29; 1955.II.B.1)
  • Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development : Final report by Mr. Raymond Scheyven (A/2728)


  • Asian-African Conference
    • Bandung, Indonesia, 18-25 April 1955
    • Known as the Bandung Conference or the Afro-Asian Conference
    • non-UN conference considered a predecessor of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77
  • The Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance : a Forward Look : Report of the Technical Assistance Board with the comments thereon of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (E/2885-E/TAC/49)


  • Specialized Agency agreement with​ International Finance Corporation (IFC) (World Bank Group)
  • A/RES/1219 (XII) : Financing for Economic Development; established the Special Fund



  • World Refugee Year, 1959-1960, in accordance with A/RES/1285 (XIII)
  • A/RES/1386 (XIV) : Declaration of the Rights of the Child
  • Specialized Agency agreement with International Maritime Organization (IMO)

UN and Development