New UN guidelines put consumer first


THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) welcomes the new United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) as an opportunity to put consumers at the center of business and development.

The UNGCP was first adopted in 1985, serving as a blueprint for consumer protection around the world. It is believed to have guided the development of consumer protection in more than 100 countries.

“The DTI accepts the United Nation General Assembly’s adoption of the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection,” Victorio Mario Dimagiba, officer-in-charge for the DTI secretary and undersecretary for the DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG), said on Tuesday.

The revised guidelines were adopted through a resolution issued on 22 December in New York City.

The highlights of the revised guidelines include:

• First comprehensive revision of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) since 1985 addresses gaps in financial services, privacy, energy, travel and tourism;

• Access to essential goods and services, and the protection of vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers are recognized as new consumer legitimate needs;

• The updated UN Guidelines can play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by protecting and empowering consumers in developing nations;

• Consumers International, the world federation of consumer organizations, calls for governments to update their consumer protection policies in line with the new UN Guidelines and challenges businesses to ensure their practices are compliant.

The guidelines give governments, business and civil society high-level guidance on issues including the recognition of new consumers’ legitimate needs, promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interests, standards for the safety and quality of consumer goods and services to redress and coordination of enforcement efforts between consumer protection agencies around the world.

When implemented globally, the revised guidelines would extend protections for consumers everywhere.

“Recently, both the Senate and the House of Representatives under the Committees on Trade and Industry have been deliberating on the amendments to the Consumer Act of the Philippines to update the areas of consumer protection as it applies to e-commerce, motu propio cases powers by the DTI, and increasing penalties for violation of the Consumer Act,” Dimagiba said.

Key additions in the new UNGCP are:
Recognition of access to essential goods and services, and the protection of vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers as new consumer legitimate needs;

New guidance on e-commerce, parity of treatment between online and offline consumers and protection of consumer privacy;

New guidance on financial services, public utilities, good business practices and international cooperation;

A new Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on consumer protection law and policy to monitor the implementation of the guidelines, serving as a forum for exchange.

The UNGCP is a powerful tool to help governments implement many of these goals. Adequate consumer protection can directly support the achievement of SDGs relating to ending hunger and encouraging healthy diets by supporting access to safe, affordable and nutritious food; to health and well-being by protecting consumers from unsafe products that cause illness or injury, and expanding access to effective pharmaceuticals.


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