The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), one of the regional commissions of the United Nations, was set up with the purpose to raise the level of economic activity in member countries and strengthen cooperation among them.
ESCWA has the following objectives: to support economic and social development in the countries of the region; to promote cooperation between the countries of the region; to encourage interaction between member countries and promote the exchange of experience, best practice and lessons learned; to achieve regional integration between member countries; and to ensure interaction between Western Asia and other regions of the world.
One of ESCWA's areas of work is 'technology for development'. The Commission's activities in this area are aimed to assist member states in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and to benefit from information and communications technologies (ICTs) as tools for development, through supporting them in: adopting e-government and e-participation services and tools; formulating and implement ICT development policies and strategies; developing digital Arabic content; and building confidence in technology infrastructure, in particular with regard to privacy and cybersecurity.
ESCWA also works on promoting the harmonisation and development of cyber legislation in the Arab region, and, to this aim, it has published directives and law templates covering issues such as: personal data protection, e-communication and free expression, e-signature and e-transactions, e-commerce and consumer protection, intellectual property, and cybercrimes.
The Commission has also been involved in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) processes, especially through providing assistance to member states in monitoring the implementation of the WSIS action lines. In addition, together with the League of Arab States, it launched the Arab IGF process, in 2012.