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Developed or Developing? The first database detailing International Organizations, treaties', and Generalized System of Preferences (GSPs)  approaches to categorizing countries as developing (or developed).

Find out which criteria are used to designate countries as "developing" in dozens of documents, and compare how 200 jurisdictions are classified under almost 20 different lists


Why "developing"? 
(and not "Global South"?)

The label "developing" is very contested, with many researchers and practitioners preferring to refrain from using it. However, "developing" unquestionably remains the main label used in official documents and continues to be used by many countries as an identity marker in their foreign policies. Whether it is a 'good' term or not, it still matters  both legally and politically.

How do organizations, treaties, and GSP classify countries?

About the project

The overarching goal of this project is to create a general map of the global governance of "developing countries".  

With this in mind, the initial action creating this public database detailing different international regulations' approaches to labeling countries as developing (or developed). As such, it looks at the category itself, as opposed to development indicators.

More specifically, the database organizes and provides material for researchers and policymakers interested in finding answers to these questions: which countries are developing, according to whom, and to which criteria? 

  • Phase 1 (current): identify criteria used by major universal international organizations, UN programs, selected environmental treaties, and Generalized Systems of Preference. In this context, create a database individually detailing how 200 jurisdictions are classified.

  • Phase 2: Map out legal implications for developing countries in all these documents

In parallel, the project will be continuously adding links to relevant research and publications. We invite suggestions and recommend that you subscribe to our updates.


Project creator and content manager

Deborah Barros Leal Farias, PhD

Image by Ruthie
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