09/2012 - UN/CEFACT – Electronic Signature Recommendation

New nomination, Conex participates actively in international standards.

During the 19th UN/CEFACT Forum in Geneva in April 2012, Lance THOMPSON, International Development Manager for CONEX, was named “Project Chair” of the revision of the Recommendation covering electronic authentication (Recommendation 14).



Lance THOMPSON of CONEX has participated in the work of UN/CEFACT since 2007 mostly in a role of observer and support. With the recent restructuration of this organization, several projects were identified within which CONEX could contribute its expertise. In recognition of his contributions and competence, Lance THOMPSON was named by his peers as Project Chair on the revision of the Recommendation 14, nomination which was approved by the Bureau in June 2012.

UN/CEFACT is an division of the United Nations which works towards the simplification and dematerialization of international trade, and produces recommendations and standards for governments’ and operators’ use. Individual experts in the private sector can participate and contribute after being nominated by their national delegation. Lance THOMPSON was nominated for the first time in 2007 for the Stockholm Forum.

UN/CEFACT produced a good number of EDIFACT and XML messages which are largely used today, as well as recommendations on key aspects of trade such as single window programs, location codifications (LOCODES), etc. Not to mention an entire library of data elements covering all aspects of trade from insurance to finance and the crossing of borders… UN/CEFACT also tries to identify and diffuse best practices including Recommendation 14.


Recommendation 14, “Authentication by means other than a [manual] signature” was first drafted in 1979 and has not been updated since. It was certainly ahead of its time when published, but technology and legislation has evolved greatly in the past 30 years and it greatly needs to be updated. The main objective is to align it with other UN recommendations encouraging the elimination of signatures all together from commercial documents wherever possible. Then when absolutely necessary, to study what alternatives exist to [manual] signatures as well as their legal and technical framework. The first working group meeting is scheduled for mid-September in Vienna during the 20th UN/CEFACT Forum; subsequent work will be done mostly on telephone conference calls.


If you would like to participate in this revision work of Recommendation 14 or if you would like more information, please contact Lance THOMPSON ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


logo-pdfRead the PDF: UN/CEFACT – Electronic Signature Recommendation


Dr. Lance THOMPSON - Conex

UN/CEFACT – Electronic Signature Recommendation