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Stability and prosperity are the watchwords of the United Nations Charter. They are prerequisites for sound and cordial relations between nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights that ensures and provides equality self-determination of opportunity to pursue a higher standard of living and employment for all through consistent economic growth and social development.

The five regional commissions were created by the United Nations in order to fulfil the economic and social goals set out in the United Nations Charter by promoting cooperation and integration between the countries in each region of the world. Those commissions are: the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE, established in 1947); the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP, 1947); the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, 1948); the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA, 1958); and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA, 1973).

The Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) was established on 9 August 1973 pursuant to the Economic and Social Council’s resolution 1818 (LV). The purpose of setting up the Commission was to raise the level of economic activity in member countries and strengthen cooperation among them. It was also intended to meet the need of the countries in Western Asia for the services of a regional economic commission to promote the development efforts in the region.

In recognition of the social component of its work, the Commission was entrusted with new responsibilities in the social field by virtue of Economic and Social Council resolution 69/ 1985 of July 1985. Its name therefore became the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

ESCWA has been located in a number of Arab capitals. It started in Beirut (1974- 1982), moved to Baghdad (1982- 1991), then to Amman (1991- 1997), and returned to Beirut in 1997, its permanent headquarters.

ESCWA comprises 17 Arab countries in Western Asia: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, The Sudan, The Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, The United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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;
To familiarize the outside world with the circumstances and needs of the countries in the region.

ESCWA provides a framework for the formulation and harmonization of sectoral policies for member countries, a platform for congress and coordination, a home for expertise and knowledge, and an information observatory. ESCWA activities are coordinated with the divisions and main offices of the Headquarters of the United Nations, specialized agencies, and international and regional organizations, including the League of Arab States and its subsidiary bodies, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.