Most developed and some developing countries have modernized their legal and regulatory framework to meet the requirements that were brought forth by the adoption of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Many countries in the Arab World, however, are still in the early development or enactment stages of cyber legislation. In order to narrow this legislative divide and to minimise the illicit use of cyberspace in the region, Arab countries need to follow a course of action that includes the formulation of cyberspace laws and the adoption of related organisational and management directives.
With the above in mind, ESCWA became involved in cyber legislation since 2007 with a number of studies and events to profile cyber legislation in the region and promote its development. ESCWA is currently implementing a project entitled "Regional Harmonisation of Cyber Legislation to Promote the Knowledge Society in the Arab World
". Initiated in 2009, the project aims at enhancing regional integration and strengthening the capacity of member countries to build a strong and sustainable ICT sector through the development of appropriate legal and regulatory structures.
One of the project’s major outputs is a set of ESCWA Cyber Legislation Directives designed to assist Arab countries in the development of national cyber laws and to harmonise cyber legislation on a regional level. In February of this year, a group consisting of legal and ICT experts reviewed, discussed and provided enhancements to the directives during an Expert Group Meeting on the Regional Harmonisation of Cyber Legislation
To further disseminate and promote these directives, ESCWA organized a Workshop on “ESCWA Directives for the Regional Harmonisation of Cyber Legislation in the Arab Region” at its headquarters in Beirut from 13 to 15 September 2011. The workshop aimed at building the capacities of legislators on the application of the ESCWA Cyber Legislation Directives for the formulation of national cyber laws or the review/adjustment of existing ones and at promoting the advantages of the harmonizing cyber legislation across the Arab region. The workshop’s sessions covered the Directives’ six areas on personal data protection, e-communication and freedom of expression, e-signature and e-transactions, e-commerce and consumer protection, intellectual property, and cyber crimes.
The main recommendations agreed on during the workshop were: (a) the importance of the ESCWA Cyber Legislation Directives and the need to consider them a main point of reference for legislators involved in regulating, protecting and securing the cyber space; (b) the importance of raising awareness on these Directives and arranging specialized workshops on their use; (c) the role of ESCWA in collaborating with regional and international organizations including the League of Arab States; (d) the need to maintain sustainability through the project’s future activities including the planned virtual network; (e) the importance of officially and regionally launching the Directives targeting the highest level of decision makers.
The second meeting of the project’s Steering Committee was held on the side of the workshop. The Steering Committee includes a number of regional and international organizations concerned with the development of cyber legislation in the Arab region.
Inquiries and requests for additional information should be addressed to:
Dr. Nibal Idlebi, Chief of Section, ICT Applications Section, ICT Division, ESCWA, PO Box 11-8575, Beirut, Lebanon, T +961-1-978540, F+961-1-981510, Email: email@example.com