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Governments take first step towards an official UN World Consumer Protection Week

In a very positive step forward, national consumer protection ministries and agencies have reached agreement on a proposal for the United Nations (UN) to make World Consumer Protection Week an official UN observance. 

2nd meeting of the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts, held in Geneva, Switzerland

The proposal calls for the week to be held each year in the week in which the 15 March falls. The proposal will now be passed to the UN General Assembly later this year for a final decision.

Last year Consumers International began work to call for UN member states to recognise World Consumer Rights Day as the UN observance. During the consultation process it became clear that the inclusion of 'rights' was not acceptable to all member states due to the different status of rights and protections in various countries. As decisions at the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Policy and Law (IGE) are made by consensus, progress was only possible if the proposal was changed to refer to 'World Consumer Protection Week'.  As a result, we consulted with our members on supporting UN recognition of an international day or week for consumer protection, even if it didn’t use the term ‘rights’ and the majority of members supported this as a positive compromise. 

If the proposal is adopted at the UN General Assembly later this year, Consumers International will continue to mark the 15 March as World Consumer Rights Day, within the UN recognised World Consumer Protection Week, marking excellent progress for our community and its work.
World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated in more than eighty countries on 15 March every year. The day marks an address made by US President JF Kennedy to the US senate in which he set out four basic consumer rights. These were later expanded to the eight consumer rights recognised by consumer organisations around the world.
Creating an official United Nations World Consumer Protection Week will help to raise awareness of  the importance of  consumer protection amongst governments, businesses and consumers and will support implementation of the recently revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection.

Agreement was reached at the meeting of the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Policy and Law in Geneva. Following further consultations, a second discussion was held and agreement was reached on World Consumer Protection Week.

Our view

Consumer protection is central to ensuring consumers are treated fairly and have access to safe and sustainable goods and services. Making World Consumer Protection Week an official United Nations observance will help to increase awareness of consumer protection and strengthen the rights of consumers around the world. The campaign to make World Consumer Protection Week an official UN observance has received fantastic support from Consumers International’s membership and government consumer protection ministers and agencies. We look forward to working with everyone to reach agreement at the General Assembly later this year.

Amanda Long, Director General, Consumers International