Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The UNGCP: Bridging the gap between governments and consumer associations

CI's Head of Asia Pacific and Middle East Indrani Thuraisingham looks at CI's involvement in the revision of the UNGCP and reflects on the importance of the Guidelines

At this very moment, CI is preparing its suggested revisions to the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP). This is an exciting time for all of us.
As coordinator for CI’s Consumer Justice and Protection programme, I have been leading the revision process. I am looking forward to heading our delegation to the UN’s special session on consumer protection to be held by the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy on 11 and 12 July 2013.

At this meeting, we will discuss a draft proposal for the revision of the UNGCP. UNCTAD has sent a questionnaire to help consumer organisations and relevant international organisations (including CI) to take stock of existing consumer protection legislation, which will serve as the basis for preparing the draft report for the revision of the UNGCP.
To inform CI’s suggested revision, we conducted a global survey on the state of consumerprotection at national levels in December last year. We received 72 responses from our Members in 60 countries. Following this, we organised a global consultation with our Members on the Guidelines, including a face-to-facemeeting in Delhi in February this year and online web consultation on the contents of the Guidelines. 

CI’s written submission to UNCTAD is due by 21 June and we are in the midst of collating more than 100 comments received from CI Members based on CI’s existing policy positions. We plan to put forward our proposed ‘best/ideal content’ for the UN Guidelines in addition to highlighting members’  “intense frustration” of  weak enforcement of consumer protection measures already in place.
We will be setting out two levels of recommendations in our submission to UNCTAD:

1) Recommendations that set out which issues we want addressed in the revision.
2) Specific proposed text for financial services and e-commerce.

CI’s proposed recommendations will be presented as part of the discussions at the Expert Meeting on Consumer Protection on 11-12 July 2013 in Geneva. We have requested that our Members write to their national delegations who will be attending this Geneva meeting  to ask for support on what CI wants from the UN Guidelines.
The UNGCP is a framework and an important element of consumer protection around the world. The UNGCP have been rather successful in bridging the gap between governments and consumer associations. Indeed, that is why we take this process seriously.

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