UNCTAD is undertaking a consultation on the revision of the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection.
This task was mandated by the First Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on Consumer Protection (2012) and later developed in the Second Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on Consumer Protection (2013).
The First Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Consumer Protection (12-13 July 2012) asked UNCTAD to prepare an Implementation Report on the UNGCP. This report (TD/B/C.I/CLP/23) concluded that since 1985, the UNGCP have been widely implemented by Member States of United Nations. The national contributions to this implementation assessment (over 50) showed that all areas of the current Guidelines remain valid and useful. In addition, new challenges to consumer protection were identified: e-commerce and financial services. Additional issues such as data protection, abusive advertisement, energy and cross-border trade merit wider consultations. Interest was raised on the implementation and monitoring of the UNGCP.
The Second Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Consumer Protection (11-12 July 2013) served to review UNCTAD's Implementation Report. During the discussions, several areas were identified for incorporation into any future revisions, particularly those where substantive progress has been made in other organizations, such as the OECD, and where there is consensus among United Nations members, particularly:
E-commerce: OECD Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of E-commerce (1999) [currently under revision, due 2017]
Financial Services: OECD G-20 High-level Principles on Financial Consumer Protection (2012)
Further, experts identified other issues that merit further discussion before inclusion: data protection, misleading advertising, energy, cross-border trade, transport, universal services, access to knowledge, tourism, class actions, and housing.
Experts also called for an implementation and control mechanism of the UNGCP.
As a mechanism to explore these issues, a proposal was accepted to establish Working Groups. The UNCTAD secretariat will prepare a report to be submitted to the VII UN Review Conference to Review the Set on the issues for inclusion in a possible future revision in collaboration with the Chairs of the Working Groups. The chairmanship of each working group is as follows: E-commerce (France), Financial Services (Malaysia), Other issues (Brazil & Germany) and Implementation of UNGCP (Gabon).
The Chairs and the UNCTAD Secretariat have agreed on a working methodology for each group. UNCTAD will now call for participation to member States as well as international organisations, Consumers International, the International Chamber of Commerce, academics and other relevant stakeholders. Working Groups will make use of ICT and regional gatherings in order to consult on, present and publicise their work.
In collaboration and accordance with each of the Working Groups, the UNCTAD Secretariat has prepared questionnaires (one for each of the Working Groups) and is now disseminating them in order to solicit the views, concerns, best practices and recommendations from member States and the other relevant stakeholders.
The responses to these questionnaires will be used to construct a First Report, which will serve to summarise the findings of the questionnaires disseminated by the Working Groups; outlining findings and trends, as well as highlighting the key issues as expressed by the member States and relevant stakeholders.
The deadline for First Report has been set as June 2014. After dissemination and further input from member States and other relevant stakeholders the Final Report will be produced by November 2014, containing possible avenues for a potential revision of the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection.
The Final Report will be submitted for consideration to the VII UN Conference to Review the Set in 2015.