UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection

The original Guidelines for Consumer Protection were adopted by the United Nations in 1985, following a successful campaign initiated by Consumers International. They were revised in 1999, and again in 2015, to ensure that they are up-to-date and address the real challenges faced by people around the world. The Guidelines are accepted as the international benchmark for good practice in consumer protection. Although not legally binding, their strength comes from their adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, and the consensus of countries and experts from around the world.

Our Work in this Area

In December 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP).  Over 90% of our recommendations were included in the first comprehensive revision of the Guidelines in more than 30 years.

Working with our international membership and national consumer protection agencies, we developed a set of detailed recommendations to ensure the Guidelines continue to be a valuable tool for the development of consumer protection around the world. The Guidelines are vital to define consumer protection needs and often act as a ‘blueprint’ for countries introducing or amending national legislation.

Our recommendations

In order to strengthen and update the Guidelines, making them fit for purpose in the 21st century, we recommended that they should:

  • recognise access to basic goods and services as a legitimate consumer need
  • incorporate protections for digital consumers
  • include protections for consumer of financial services
  • recognise consumers’ rights to privacy.



Crucially, we also called for a new process to be established to monitor and support the future implementation of the Guidelines. This was realised when an Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on consumer protection law and policy was established to monitor the implementation of the Guidelines and serve as a forum for exchange. This group will play a crucial role in translating the Guidelines from high level principles to real-world action. Consumers International has an observer role at the IGE.

When the final revision of the Guidelines was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015, it included more than 90% of our original recommendations. This was a historic moment, as it marked the first comprehensive revision of the UNGCP since 1985, recognising access to basic goods and services, and the protection of vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers as new consumer legitimate needs.

We're now working with our members to develop international and national initiatives that use the momentum created by this revision process to strengthen consumer protection around the world.

Highlights, successes and related materials

Consumers International have created a practical guide to the UN Consumer Protection Guidelines. The booklet describes the key principles on which the Guidelines are based, the main recommendations they contain, and how they can be applied.

To support this we have created a short animation, explaining the importance of consumer protection. 

In this practical guide to the UN guidelines for consumer protection, we describes the key principles on which the guidelines are based, the main recommendations they contain, and how they can be applied. Available in: English Spanish French Arabic





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