unctad.org | Consumer rights can spur development, meeting hears
Consumer rights can spur development, meeting hears
03 July 2018
When consumer interests are protected, social and economic progress follows – supporting countries to meet the Sustainable Development Goals

Improved protection of consumer rights and interests can spur social and economic progress in developing countries, participants at an UNCTAD meeting of experts will hear on 9–10 July.

"Businesses up their game and citizens see their welfare increase when governments strengthen consumers' rights, leading to better products and services in the marketplace and increased overall competitiveness," UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

"There is a clear link between better consumer rights and the goals that governments set in 2015 with their endorsement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

Civil society

This link will be addressed in the keynote speech of the meeting on 9 July by vice chancellor of Nilai University Sothi Rachagan. A distinguished legal scholar, Mr. Rachagan is also a member of the UNCTAD Expert Panel on Consumer Protection and a leader in the revision of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.

Consumer protection and development was also explored in an UNCTAD report published earlier this year which detailed how consumer policy "can support the implementation of many, if not all, of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals".

The report notes, for example, that upholding the right of consumers to safe and nutritious food contributes to, among others, Goal 2 on ending hunger and Goal 3 on ensuring healthy lives.

Bargaining equality

The report maps the link between the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, the latest revision of which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2015.

"Consumer protection measures contribute to equity and social justice by enhancing the bargaining equality between both the interests of the consumer and producer," according to the report.

"The effects of this go a long way towards alleviating the problems of those who are particularly vulnerable in the marketplace such as children, the economically disadvantaged, and others who are illiterate and with specific needs, or disabilities."

The two-day meeting includes a session on consumer protection and financial services.

"As recent evidence shows, fostering financial inclusion has the potential to improve the lives of citizens, reduce transaction costs, spur economic activity, and improve delivery of other social benefits and innovative private‐sector solutions," Teresa Moreira, who leads UNCTAD's work on consumer protection and competition law and policy, said.

Panellists include regulators from developing and developed countries and the private sector.

On day two, sessions highlight consumer dispute resolution and redress, and ensuring the safety of products.

Participants at the meeting will also consider the first ever "voluntary peer review" of the consumer protection law and policy of a member State undertaken at the intergovernmental level.

Peers and partners

In this process, at the request of a country, experts review national laws and policies to suggest improvements and strengthen institutional capacity based on best practices.

The Kingdom of Morocco was the first country to request and receive such a review. The peer reviewers came from the consumer protection authorities of Belgium, Lebanon and Portugal.

The 2018 event marks the third meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy, set up in the wake of the adoption of the 2015 update of the United Nations Guidelines and facilitated by UNCTAD.

The meeting will be followed by the 9th Meeting of the UNCTAD Research Partnership Platform on Wednesday 11 July in the morning and the 17th Session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy from 11–13 July 2018.



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