Friday, 22 April 2016

Consumers International launches bid for UN recognition of World Consumer Rights Day

This week at the UNCTAD Roundtable on the ‘UNGCP International
Framework for the Protection of Consumers’ I was delighted to announce that Consumers International is calling for World Consumer Rights Day to be formally recognised by the UN as an international day within the UN calendar.

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is a fantastic annual celebration that unites consumers around the world. Now is the time for the UN to recognise this day formally and in doing so deliver even more to raise awareness of consumer rights.



For the last 33 years, consumer organisations around the world have joined together on March 15 to mark World Consumer Rights Day; a day that plays a vital role in raising awareness of consumer rights around the globe. The event is regularly marked in more than 90 countries around the world and a wide mix of consumers, consumer organisations, government consumer agencies and international organisations take part.

Formally recognising World Consumer Rights Day as an International Day as already exists for women, the environment, health, children, amongst many others, could help this important annual moment play an even more powerful role in raising awareness of consumer rights and highlighting inadequate consumer protection.

Given the historic adoption of the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection that was achieved at the end of 2015, which recognised important new protections for consumers, there is now an urgent need to raise awareness of these protections for consumers around the globe.  UN recognition of World Consumer Rights Day can play a crucial part in this. At a time when Consumers International has unprecedented engagement from Consumer Protection Agencies around the world, we have an excellent opportunity to campaign for UN recognition for the most important day in the global consumer rights calendar.

World Consumer Rights Day

It is a truly international event. Previous themes for the day have included campaigns on basic rights, safe food, GMOs, trade, public utilities, healthy diets, financial services, phone rights, energy. The day is used to raise awareness of existing rights and shine a light on areas where there is inadequate consumer protection in place. Celebrated by the majority of countries around the world activities marking the day have included media stunts, public meetings, marches, social media campaigns and the publication of test results, surveys and opinion pieces.

The date itself was chosen to commemorate a Special Message to the US Congress made by President John F Kennedy in 1962 in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so.

A global challenge

Despite this global celebration, we all know that many consumers still face real challenges in their everyday lives, from a lack of access or poor quality goods and services, as well as unfair practices. There is much more to be done to raise awareness of consumer rights amongst consumers, governments and business.

As President John F Kennedy said in his message to the US Congress in 1962,

'Consumers by definition, include us all. They are the largest economic group, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group... whose views are often not heard.'

UN recognition for WCRD would be another step towards meeting the challenge that President Kennedy set out more than 50 years ago.

Official UN recognition

Official UN recognition can help to put consumer rights on the map of even more organisations, governments, companies and media outlets. It can help to raise awareness by engaging more people, in more activities, in more countries.

For our Members we expect it will make it more possible for them to get coverage of their activities and secure the participation of senior figures from government or business. It will also help to introduce consumer rights to new groups and help them realise the contribution that consumer rights can make to fairer and stronger economies, poverty reduction, improved health and safety and many other issues that affect people today.  At this time of promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals there is further justification for the need for UN recognition.

Achieving UN recognition requires the support of Member states at the UN General Assembly. But, with the adoption of the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection – and the urgent need to raise awareness of these protections, alongside the promotion of the UN Sustainable development Goals and the quality of our engagement with national Consumer Protection Agencies, we feel we are in the best possible place to put World Consumer Rights Day on the UN map.

We are asking CI Members to contact their Regional Networker for more information on how to get involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment