Indrani Thuraisingham, Head of CI Office for Asia Pacific and the Middle East, reports on the activities of the region
It’s been a busy time in the Asia Pacific and Middle East region and I’m happy to be able to announce the completion of some important projects as well as the addition of two new members to the CI family.
First, welcome to our newest members:
- Consumer Rights and Services Organisation (CRSO), Afghanistan; and
- Yogyakarta Consumer Institute of Indonesia.
This six-minute video is a collaboration between CI and SWITCH-Asia, an EU-funded programme to promote sustainable consumption and production.
The video features stories from many typical households throughout Asia and their consumer habits as collected by SWITCH-Asia partners in China, India and Vietnam and the following CI members:
- UBINIG, Bangladesh;
- Consumers Association of India;
- Foundation for Consumers, Thailand; and
- FOMCA, Malaysia.
Third, we successfully completed our seven-month programme of work in Nepal which looked at ways to develop the country’s consumer movement.
We found that getting more information into circulation through consumer education and awareness programmes and setting up clear and effective systems for redress are the best ways to boost consumer confidence and grow the country’s movement.
As part of the project, our office carried out training sessions, mapping of consumer organisations, exposure visits, and printing of IEC materials on consumer protection as well as organised the policy conference for government officials from the Department of Commerce and representatives of all of the consumer organisations in Nepal.
The programme was run under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization through the EC-Nepal WTO Assistance Programme towards "making the consumer movement a viable market force" from September 2011 until March 2012.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that our office is currently leading CI’s work in two of the five global priority programmes as part of our new Strategy 2015. These are ‘Consumers in the Digital Age’ and ‘Consumer Justice and Protection’.
These two global programmes have a common agenda of engaging UNCTAD to revise the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection to include access to knowledge, competition, financial services and e-commerce.
CI’s Dr Jeremy Malcolm attended the recent UNCTAD XIII conference in Doha, Qatar, to advocate for the inclusion of both consumer protection and access to knowledge issues in the outcome documents of the conference.
There were heated debates with governments from some developed countries about their desire to remove important references to the global financial crisis and climate change from the outcome text. It was due to the persistence of civil society organisations such as CI that most of those references were reinstated.
In the end, the outcome documents made a strong statement for the consumer movement, in particular the civil society statement which reiterated the eight consumer rights, and called for the revision of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection.