What is UN ?
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization established 24 October 1945 to promote international co-operation. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was created following the Second World War to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.
United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection
The needs of all consumers should be recognized
- Acknowledgement that protection should extend to all consumers not just those in the formal economy.
- It should be stressed that disadvantaged consumers live in rural and urban areas.
- Recognition that state-owned enterprises, as well as corporations, have responsibilities to consumer.
- Access to essential goods and services should be acknowledged as‘a legitimate need of consumers’ Digital consumption should be
- Respect for online privacy should be emphasized.
- Acknowledgement that a consumer has equal protection regardless of how a purchase is made, or whether the product is in a digital format.
- Provide scope to recognise the internet as an essential service for consumers, alongside food, water, energy and sanitation.
More emphasis needed on fairness in the market
- Contracts and terms of service should be free of lengthy and complex small print, and should not lock consumers in to unreasonable commitments nor contain unfair terms or restrictions.
- To promote fair competition, governments and regulators should have the powers to tackle market structures as well as abusive practices.
- Collective legal action against abusive practices should be acknowledged as an essential tool for seeking redress.
Acknowledge health as a cornerstone of responsible marketing
- Restrictions should be placed on the marketing of food and beverages to children and bans or severe limits placed on the advertising of tobacco and alcohol.
Improve guidance in specific sectors
- Financial services: providers should abide by the general principles of consumer protection, and meet specific provisions including support for access, competition and systemic stability.
- Water: sanitation and the principle of universal service should be included. Subsidies should support improvements to access.
- Energy: the impact of consumers’ energy use on climate change should be addressed, while also stressing the need for greater access.
- Food: measures to promote sustainable food production, reduce price volatility and tackle waste should be supported.
- Pharmaceuticals: generic competition should be promoted as a means of providing better access to affordable healthcare.
Ongoing support to the implementation of the Guidelines
- A UN International Day for Consumer Protection. To raise awareness and generate support we call for the UN to give official recognition to 15 March as the annual world day for consumer protection.
- A new standing conference on consumer protection. To monitor implementation of the Guidelines.
The Guidelines in brief
The Guidelines call upon governments to develop, strengthen and maintain a strong consumer policy, and provide for enhanced protection of consumers by enunciating various steps and measures around the following eight issues:
- Physical safety;
- Promotion and protection of consumers economic interests;
- Standards for the safety and quality of consumer goods and services;
- Distribution facilities for essential consumer goods and services;
- Measures enabling consumers to obtain redress;
- Education and information programmes;
- Promotion of sustainable consumption;
- Measures relating to specific areas:
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