ICPEN's best practices workshop is the most important exchange of experiences between consumer protection enforcement agencies worldwide. UNCTAD will have the opportunity to present the latest developments of the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection.
To date, UNCTAD has hosted two Ad Hoc Expert Group Meetings on Consumer Protection, in July 2012 and 2013. Both meetings have highlighted the interest of consumer protection experts in discussing and updating the United Nations on Consumer Protection (UNGCP).
The UNGCP were drafted by ECOSOC and adopted by the General Assembly in 1985 (Resolution A/C.2/54/L.24 9TH) and later revised in 1999. From the outset of the Guidelines, due consideration was given to the existing work on consumer protection issues, produced by organizations such as OECD, OAS, UNIDO and UNCITRAL, and prevailing norms and best practices were incorporated into the original document.
Experts in the First Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Consumer Protection of 2012 discussed emerging issues on consumer protection and noted the need to revise the existing Guidelines, so as to guarantee their usefulness and validity. Subsequently, the UNCTAD Secretariat prepared the Implementation Report on United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (TD/B/C.I/CLP/23). In doing so, UNCTAD asked Member States, international organizations and other relevant stakeholders to participate in the report, by informing of the legislative processes of Member States, along with contemporary guidelines produced by ICPEN, OECD, OAS, UNCITRAL and Consumers International, among others. As this assessment reflected, the UNGCP remain a valid and relevant document for consumer protection policy and have inspired a significant number of national consumer protection laws. However, in order for these Guidelines to continue to provide a relevant framework, a number of areas were identified for their improvement.
In July 2013, UNCTAD hosted the Second Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Consumer Protection, which was devoted to the discussion of the state of implementation of the UNGCP since their last revision in 1999. The Chairman Summary proposed that the issues of e-commerce and financial services should be covered in the Guidelines so as to ensure their usefulness and validity over time, and that some other issues would merit further discussion. Experts showed their interest in incorporating concrete chapters on these new issues in the Secretariat Report in preparation for the VII Conference to Review the United Nations Set of Principles on Competition of 2015. In this regard, the Chairman’s Summary proposed the constitution of four Working Groups on the issues of: e-commerce, financial services, implementation of the Guidelines, and 'other issues' that could assist the Secretariat in the preparation of a report to be submitted to the VII Conference to Review the United Nations Set of Principles on Competition of 2015. In order to ensure transparency and inclusiveness, these Working Groups should be led by a Member State to work closely with the Secretariat and would be responsible for providing the best practices on each area to be included in the Secretariat Report. The said working groups are currently in the process of being constituted.
UNCTAD would like to use this opportunity to present the Working Groups and the methodology of work from ICPEN until 2015.
· The individual objectives of the session would be:
· Present the state of the revision of the UNGCP
· Present the workplan of the Working Groups through their Chairs
· Receive input on the workplan and methodology of the process
· Encourage agencies' participation in the process.