Bahrain has become the first country in MENA to ratify a key UN convention on electronic communications, helping to enable a new wave of digital business across the region and enhance investor protections.
The UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (2005) aims to enhance commercial certainty by ensuring that contracts concluded and other communications exchanged electronically are as valid and enforceable as their traditional paper-based equivalents and by introducing specific principles surrounding the use of technology during signing processes. This will enter into force for Bahrain on Jan. 1, 2021.
The principles of the treaty include defining terminology such as “writing” and “signature” so that all parties are legally protected when entering into a contract. The convention also aims to remove legal obstacles in the use of electronic communications in enacting previous treaties that were first created before the widespread use of modern technology.
Bahrain became the 14th country globally to join the treaty, alongside major economies such as Singapore and Russia. Countries that have signed, but not yet ratified, the convention include China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
It comes after Bahrain made history in November 2018 by becoming the first nation to enact legislation based on the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) e-commerce model laws. The move was part of a series of sweeping reforms aimed at bolstering the digital readiness of the GGC region’s $1.5 trillion economy.
Khalid Humaidan, chief executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “To build a truly digital economy in the GCC, it is essential that our regulation keeps pace with the latest developments — particularly at a time when more and more business is being conducted in the virtual realm.
“Bahrain is leading the way on tech-driven reforms and is committed to supporting the needs of entrepreneurs and investors as they work to build long-term growth in our thriving e-commerce landscape.”
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the UN as we stay on the cutting edge of legislative developments.”