International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

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The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), also known as the world business organization, was founded in 1919 to promote peace among countries through trade and prosperity. The ICC grew throughout the century to become the leading body of representation for enterprises around the globe. Its rules and guidelines, while being voluntary, govern international business actions and have become a standard used by ICC members, which include businesses and associations in over 130 countries involved in international trade. The ICC was given the highest level of consultative status with the United Nations shortly after its formation.

The ICC is involved in business related issues such as trade and investment policy, financial services, information technologies, telecommunications, marketing ethics, the environment, transportation, competition law, and intellectual property. As an increasing number of business transactions began taking place on the World Wide Web throughout the 1990s, the ICC began focusing on Internet-related issues and formed the Commission on Telecommunications and Information Technologies. The commission was founded to "formulate policy on issues such as electronic business, information security, telecommunications, and competition," according to the ICC. Upon its formation, its agenda included advising governments on competition in the telecommunications industry and pushing for the implementation and increased development of the World Trade Organization telecommunications agreement, along with aiding developing countries in meeting telecommunications objectives.

Along with the development of the Commission, the ICC also created the Electronic Commerce Project (ECP). The ECP consisted of experts from various other ICC commissions including Banking Technique and Practice, Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Financial Services and Insurance, Transport, and International Commercial Practice. According to the ICC, the ECP was developed "to create global trust in electronic trade transactions by defining best business practices for the digital age." In 2001, the project was divided into three major areas including the General Usage for Internationally Digitally Ensured Commerce (GUIDEC), the Electronic Trade Practices Working Group, and E-terms service.

GUIDEC, a set of international rules, definitions, and guidelines for the use of electronic authentication techniques, was the first ECP initiative. It became available on the ICC Web site in November 1997 and was considered to be one of the first sets of global regulations for electronic commerce. GUIDEC was created to promote a global understanding of techniques used in electronic commerce and business transactions on the Internet, and to "establish a general framework for the ensuring and certification of digital messages, based upon existing law and practice in different legal systems."

The Electronic Trade Practices Working Group (ETP) was also developed to establish a set of rules regarding electronic trade and settlement. The ETP was formed to make trade more efficient on the Internet by setting guidelines for buyers and sellers who negotiate; make contracts; and arrange for financing, transport, and insurance on the Web. The ETP has worked to integrate international trade regulations that typically related to transactions in the physical world with those taking place with more frequency on the Web.

The third component of the ECP, E-terms service, was in its developmental stage in 2001. Designed to serve small businesses needing legal expertise, E-terms service provided the information needed to write online contracts and conduct business transactions on the Web.

The ICC, while working on its own e-commerce projects, also worked with many other international organizations to aid in the development of global e-commerce. In 2000, the ICC teamed up with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, and over 72 companies that make up The Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe). Together, the organizations formed agreements to work together to identify "best practices" for electronic commerce and develop guidelines for Internet property rights and cybersecurity.

The ICC was also a founding member of the Alliance for Global Business (AGB), a group of major international trade associations that was created to provide information and leadership on e-commerce related issues. The ICC also played a large role in formation of the Global Action Plan for Electronic Commerce released by the Global Information Infrastructure Commission (GIIC) in October 1999. The plan was developed to boost consumer confidence in e-business by providing guidelines for self-regulation among businesses that provide products and services on the Web. Through its Telecommunications and Information Technologies Commission, the ICC also provided a forum for discussions on telecommunications and information technologies for intergovernmental organizations such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), World Bank, United Nations Committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the International Standards Organization (ISO).

In February 2001, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh was elected chairman of the Commission on Telecommunications and Information Technology and pledged that the ICC would continue its efforts relating to global e-commerce. In a 2001 ICC press release, Abu-Ghazaleh stated, "the Internet may have transformed the way people live and work in the developed world, but for a vast proportion of the world's population, it remains an inaccessible pipe dream. ICC will work through its countless member companies in the developing world and in tandem with other international organizations to ensure the vast potential of the Internet to generate prosperity in all corners of the globe is realized."


International Chamber of Commerce. "GUIDEC." Paris: International Chamber of Commerce, 2001. Available from

International Chamber of Commerce. "ICC's New Business Chief to Focus on Developing World." Paris: International Chamber of Commerce, February 15, 2001. Available from

International Chamber of Commerce. "The ICC Electronic Commerce Project." Paris: International Chamber of Commerce, 2001. Available from

Mahoney, Michael. "Europeans Crack Down on $3.9B Internet Banking Scam." E-Commerce Times, April 12, 2001. Available from

SEE ALSO: BBBOnLine Inc.; General Usage for Internationally Digitally Ensured Commerce (GUIDEC); Global Trading Web Association

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International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

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International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)