On 15 March, 1962, US President John F. Kennedy
delivered an historic address to the US Congress in which he
outlined his vision of consumer rights. This was the first time any
politician had formerly set out such principles.
'Consumers by definition, include us all,' Kennedy
said in his Congressional Statement, '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.'
Over time, the consumer movement has developed this vision into
a set of eight basic consumer rights that now define and inspire
much of the work CI and its members
do (around areas such as financial services and communications):
- The right to satisfaction of basic needs - To
have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing,
shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and
- The right to safety - To be protected against
products, production processes and services that are hazardous to
health or life.
- The right to be informed - To be given the facts
needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against
dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.
- The right to choose - To be able to select
from a range of products and services, offered at competitive
prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
- The right to be heard - To have consumer
interests represented in the making and execution of government
policy, and in the development of products and services.
- The right to redress - To receive a fair
settlement of just claims, including compensation for
misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
- The right to consumer education - To acquire
knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices
about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer
rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
- The right to a healthy environment -To live
and work in an environment that is non-threatening to
the well-being of present and future generations.
Read how to say these consumer
rights in French or
1980s, CI's then president, Anwar Fazal (left), led the
call to also introduce a set of consumer responsibilities
to compliment consumer rights.
These remain crucial principles for many consumer rights
- Critical awareness - consumers must be
awakened to be more questioning about the provision of the quality
of goods and services.
- Involvement or action - consumers must assert
themselves and act to ensure that they get a fair deal.
- Social responsibility - consumers must act
with social responsibility, with concern and sensitivity to the
impact of their actions on other citizens, in particular, in
relation to disadvantaged groups in the community and in relation
to the economic and social realties prevailing.
- Ecological responsibility - there must be a
heightened sensitivity to the impact of consumer decisions on the
physical environment, which must be developed to a harmonious way,
promoting conservation as the most critical factor in improving the
real quality of life for the present and the future.
- Solidarity - the best and most effective
action is through cooperative efforts through the formation of
consumer/citizen groups who together can have the strength and
influence to ensure that adequate attention is given to the
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The global consumer movement promotes consumer rights on 15 March every year. See the action near you.Go to WCRD 2013
Food labelling and marketing, salt reduction and the Junk Food Generation campaign.Go to Food