Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The process for the revision of the UN Guidelines enters a definitive stage

It is a crucial period for CI’s work to ensure global consumer guidelines are updated to meet new challenges, CI consumer policy expert Antonino Serra Cambaceres says. 

The global consumer movement faces a big challenge. We have to convince governments to support our United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection (UNGCP) proposals.

It is a complex task and time is of the essence. Governments, more specifically government missions accredited to UNCTAD, hold the fate of this process in their hands.

Therefore, the coordinated work we have to do will be essential to obtain their support.

We can ensure the Guidelines remain the global benchmark for consumer protection - and we have an obligation to reflect the needs and aspirations of millions of consumers worldwide.

If we work in a coordinated manner, this effort will certainly bear fruit.

It’s important to look back on how we arrived at this point.

In 2013, CI presented a proposal which was developed with input from its Members.

In this proposal, we identified issues that needed new guidelines - financial services, e-commerce and energy among others - as well as those in which it was necessary to adapt existing guidelines.

Since then CI continued to participate in the review process and sent responses to the four working groups that were created in 2013 – namely  Financial Services, Electronic Commerce, Implementation and Other Issues.

In these responses we reaffirmed the points that we felt should be updated.

This first stage of this work ended on August 15 when UNCTAD released a report called "Report on the modalities for the review of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection".

The publication of this report marked the second stage of the process. UNCTAD has requested all stakeholders - governments, international organisations, civil society groups – comment on the report so that work groups can develop concrete proposals.

This means that from now until October 2014 working groups will identify areas and issues on which there is some consensus to progress the update of the Guidelines.

That’s why this second stage is very important. UNCTAD expects proposed revised texts of the new guidelines, which will take the form of a resolution, will be discussed at a meeting to be held in Geneva, in January 2015.

The draft resolution will be due in November this year, for further comments before January’s meeting.

The 7th UN Review Conference, to be held in July 2015, will approve the draft resolution to be submitted to the UN General Assembly for adoption.

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