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On 17 November, 1966, the United Nations General Assembly passes resolution 2152 (XXI) establishing the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as an autonomous body within the United Nations. Its mission is to promote and accelerate the industrialization of developing countries. The United Nations Secretary-General nominates Ibrahim Helmi Abdel-Rahman (Egypt) as UNIDO's first Executive Director.

The General Assembly, in resolution 3362 (S-VII), endorses the recommendation of the Conference that UNIDO be converted into a specialized agency. The new Executive Director, Abd-El Rahman Khane (Algeria) takes office.

The UN conference on the "Establishment of UNIDO as a specialized agency," at its second session in Vienna, Austria, adopts the new Constitution.

Following a series of consultations between Member States that have ratified, accepted or approved the Constitution of UNIDO, the Constitution enters into force on 21 June. The first session of the General Conference of UNIDO as a specialized agency meets in August and elects Domingo L. Siazon Jr. (Philippines) as its Director General.

This year sees further restructuring of UNIDO, with an emphasis on services geared to private sector development. Mauricio de Maria y Campos (Mexico) is elected Director General.

Member States adopt a Business Plan for the Future Role and Functions of UNIDO that paves the way for its thorough overhaul. The purpose of the Business Plan is to enable UNIDO to better respond to the changing global economic environment. The seventh session of the General Conference appoints Carlos Magariños (Argentina) as UNIDO's Director General.

UNIDO's reform is hailed as a resounding success by Member States attending the Millennium Conference at the UN headquarters in New York. UNIDO's efforts to increase the industrial competitiveness of its client countries are also applauded.
UNIDO adjusts its programmes in the light of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

UNIDO adopts a new corporate strategy based on the premise that productivity enhancement, driven by improved skills, increased knowledge and upgraded technology, plays a crucial role in promoting faster growth.

The General Conference, at its eleventh session, elects Kandeh K. Yumkella (Sierra Leone) as UNIDO's Director General.

Kandeh K. Yumkella is recommended for a second term in office as the Director General of UNIDO.

The General Conference, at its second special session in June, elects LI Yong (People's Republic of China) as UNIDO's Director General.

The nineteenth session of the General Conference approved Gerd Müller of Germany to be the Organization's next Director General.
He took office as the new Director General of UNIDO on 10 December 2021.