Experts gather in Geneva to discuss Consumer Protection Guidelines

28 January 2015

UNCTAD hosted a meeting in Geneva to debate proposed revisions to the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.  The revisions aim to ensure the guidelines remain relevant to the evolving challenges faced by consumers, especially in the areas of e-Commerce and financial services.

Between 22 and 23 January 2015, UNCTAD welcomed consumer protection experts from national authorities, Geneva based Missions, civil society and academia to the Palais des Nations, in order to discuss the draft resolutions for revision of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP).

This Third Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on Consumer Protection, which was planned under the regular work of the UNCTAD secretariat and arising from the Doha Mandate, was composed of "structured sessions" corresponding to each of the four UNGCP Working Groups (E-Commerce, Financial Services, Other Issues and Implementation) and the over-arching principles of these issues, such as disclosure and transparency, education and awareness, and redress mechanisms.

Two days of constructive dialogue and contributions from a wide range of participants resulted in a revised, newly organized version of the draft resolutions.

The UNCTAD secretariat has proposed a period of three weeks for stakeholders to provide further contributions, before finalizing a version of the resolutions for further discussions towards the end of March.

The agreed Resolution will be submitted for consideration to the 7th United Nations Conference to Review the Set, to be held in Geneva from 6-10 July 2015.

About the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP)

The UNGCP is a declaration of best practices in consumer protection law and policy. The Guidelines are not binding, but do provide a set of basic consumer protection objectives upon which governments have agreed, thereby serving as a policy framework for implementation at a national level.

The UNGCP complement the United Nations Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices (the "UN Set"), both instruments contributing to global efforts to promote consumer welfare by protecting consumers against, inter alia, anti-competitive behaviour by firms and undertakings. The two instruments also place particular emphasis on the need to protect the interests of developing countries

The current revision process provides a valuable opportunity to modernise the UNGCP, in order to simplify and improve the regulatory environment for both businesses and consumers, and improve or extend the level of protection afforded to consumers.

This is in line with UNCTAD's work on competition law and policy and consumer welfare in a globalized economy.