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ESCWA promotes economic and social development through regional and subregional cooperation and integration and serves as the main general economic and social development forum within the United Nations system for the UN-ESCWA region.  It formulates and promotes development assistance activities and projects commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for relevant operational projects.  ESCWA coordinates its activities with those of the major departments/offices of the United Nations at Headquarters and of specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations, such as the League of Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with a view to avoid duplication and ensure complementarity, synergy and exchange of information.

The Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) was established by Economic and Social Council resolution 1818 (LV) of 9 August 1973 as the successor to the United Nations Economic and Social Office in Beirut (UNESOB). In 1985, the Commission was redesignated the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA), in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1985/69 of 26 July 1985, in order to acknowledge more fully the social aspect of the Commission's activities. The majority of activities under the regular programme of work are regional in dimension. There are, however, a limited number of activities that are country-specific, but have regional implications.

UN-ESCWA is a part of the Secretariat of the United Nations and is one of the five regional commissions which report to the Economic and Social Council, the principal organ of the United Nations responsible for coordinating economic and social activities in the United Nations system. The other regional commissions are: the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). ESCWA carries out its work at the Western Asia regional level.


Information and Communication Technology (ICTD)

Our Vision: The Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) aspires to play a major role with ESCWA member countries in their transformation toward knowledge-based society and global competitiveness in the market, while striving to increase employment, reduce poverty and enhance quality of life through state-of-the-art ICTs and their applications.

On a national level, the Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) aims to increase the capabilities of member states in harnessing information and communication technology for their development. In this respect, it provides support with regard to the development of Information and communication technology (ICT) policies, infrastructure, and applications, and raises awareness with regard to the potential of ICT in promoting sustainable development and enabling ESCWA countries to integrate into the global economy.

On a regional level, ICTD also endeavors to establish cooperation and coordination mechanisms between regional players engaged in ICT development activities. It will promote ICT applications for development at the national and regional levels, and strives towards the establishment of a sustainable ICT sector in the region.

The Division's major tasks encompass:  

  • Use of information and communication technologies as a means for development and regional integration;

  • Follow-up efforts of ESCWA member countries to implement the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society;

  • Facilitating coordination and cooperation between governments, NGOs and the private sector for the information society;

  • Assisting Member States in the formulation of policies and strategies for information and communication technology;

  • Strengthening the ICT sector at both the national and regional levels;

  • Developing indicators of ICT for development contributing to capacity building in member States in the area of measuring the information society;

  • Monitoring of ICT applications, infrastructure and evaluation at national and regional levels;

  • Providing member States with technical assistance on issues related to information technology and communications.



The Information Society Portal for the ESCWA Region (ISPER) is a flagship web portal application, developed and maintained by the Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) of ESCWA, within the framework of follow-up activities to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

This dynamic, bilingual (English/Arabic), database-driven, open-source application provides stakeholders with a unique entry point to essential information on the current status of the information society in the region and facilitates cooperation and regional integration opportunities in order to promote the building of a regional knowledge-based economy.