Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Region’s consumer advocates lead the way on consumer protection

CI’s Head of Asia Pacific and the Middle East Indrani Thuraisingham reports on the opening of the new Middle East hub office, CI’s involvement with the UNGCP, and more.

CI and its members are beginning the process of providing input to the United Nations Committee for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for the revision of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP).

We are calling on UNCTAD to amend the Guidelines rather than develop a completely new document as we believe there is much in the existing document that is still valuable and that they have served well as the reference point for consumer protection since 1985.

Among our requests, is that the Guidelines are brought up-to-date in light of new developments in technology and business practices and new consumer concerns.

World Consumer Rights Day is just around the corner and this year’s theme - ‘Consumer Justice Now!’ - reflects the importance CI is placing on its global Consumer Justice and Protection programme (coordinated from our office here in Malaysia).

CI has developed a member survey to map consumer protection measures across the globe.

The results of the survey are being used, along with the outcomes from a consultation meeting of CI members and experts in February 2013, to inform UNCTAD of our recommendations and suggested amendments to the Guidelines. If you are a CI member, and have not completed your survey, please do so as it is vital that we have input from all of our members.

Still on the subject of UNCTAD, there is exciting news to report from CI member Hong Kong Consumer Council (HKCC). Connie Lau, former CEO of HKCC, is going to chair UNCTAD’s First International Advisory Group of Experts on Consumer Protection in July 2013.

Connie is a staunch advocate for strengthened consumer protection across the world for consumer welfare and justice. It will indeed be exciting times. 

Finally, I am delighted to say that CI’s hub office for the Middle East in Muscat, Oman has become functional. Recruitment of staff to coordinate CI’s work in the Middle East region is finalized and staff are set to begin work.

I’d like to express my deepest appreciation to the Oman Public Authority on Consumer Protection Oman for its support through the cooperation programme signed on 2 October with CI in New York.

I am confident that, with the establishment of the Middle East office, CI will be able to expand its membership and have a strong voice from the Middle East for better consumer protection.

I am looking forward to these landmark activities scheduled to take place next year and would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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