UNCTAD´s Development Solution

Consumer Protection

Strengthening institutions and building capacities

Program in a Nutshell

Created in 1980

15 activities carried out​


  • Capacity Building and Development
  • Building Skills and Training
  • Institutional Building and Support to Institutions
  • Policy Advice, Support and Formulation
  • Policy Dialogue
  • Research, Reports and Evaluations


  • ASEAN – Secretariat
  • China Silk Road Group

Geographical scope​

Regional Economic Status

Partner : UNCTAD

Contact us

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UNCTAD is the focal point on consumer protection within the UN system, and is mandated to oversee the implementation of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.

This programme helps countries to better protect consumers while also stimulating economic competition. The aim is to promote an environment where business, including e-commerce, can thrive and consumers can have the confidence they need to engage in and benefit from national and international e-commerce markets.

The programme provides tailored technical support and training for government officials, consumer organizations, businesses and academics. The ultimate objective is to establish legal and regulatory frameworks to protect and empower the consumer and ensure e-commerce develops in a way that benefits everyone.

The programmes most recent technical cooperation project is entitled: “Delivering block-chain based online dispute resolution for consumers as means to improve international trade and electronic commerce.” It is funded by the China Silk Road Group and aims to benefit at least two South-East countries. The project will identify best practices and policy options to promote consumer online dispute resolution and define the legal, technical and infrastructure requirements for the development of online dispute resolution systems, including through the use of block-chain technology.


  • Capacity Building and Development

      • Internships on consumer protection online dispute resolution 2017
      • Training course on e-commerce and consumer protection for Latin America 2015
      • Regional Training workshop on E-Commerce and Complaint Handling for MENA countries 2016
      • Manual on Consumer Protection 2016
      • Manual on Phones, Internet Services & E-commerce for ASEAN countries 2016
  • Building Skills and Training

      • Training course on e-commerce and consumer protection
  • Institutional Building and Support to Institutions

      • Internships on consumer protection online dispute resolution 2017
      • Advocacy for consumer protection
  • Policy Advice, Support and Formulation

      • United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection
      • Workshop on competition and consumer protection for Latin America since 2015
      • Advice on policy reform
      • Guideline on Best Practices on E-Commerce Investigations
      • Advice on law reform
      • Strengthening consumer protection and competition in the digital economy 2020
      • Dispute resolution and redress 2018
      • Consumer protection in electronic commerce 2017
  • Policy Dialogue

      • International Consumer Protection Forum for Latin America since 2011
  • Research, Reports and Evaluations

      • United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, chapter on e-commerce – 2015
      • “Implementation of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection” Note by the UNCTAD secretariat – 2020
      • “Strengthening consumer protection and competition in the digital economy” Note by the UNCTAD secretariat – 2020
      • “Dispute resolution and redress” Note by the UNCTAD secretariat – 2018
      • “Consumer protection in electronic commerce” Note by the UNCTAD secretariat – 2017
      • “Modalities for the revision of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, chapter on e-commerce” Note by the UNCTAD Secretariat – 2015
      • Implementation of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection 1985-2013 , TD/B/C.I/CPLP/23 Note by the UNCTAD Secretariat – 2013

      (Find documents on the Publications section)


  • Guidelines for Consumer Protection

    • The Guidelines offer a valuable set of principles that set out the main characteristics of effective consumer protection legislation, enforcement institutions and redress systems. It is also an effective support for the Member States in formulating and enforcing domestic and regional laws, rules and regulations that are suitable to their economic, social and environmental circumstances; they also help promote international enforcement cooperation among Member States and encourage the sharing of experiences in consumer protection.

  • Manual on consumer protection

    • The manual gives a deep overview on the consumer protection related issues and gives a deeper insight on:

      • The scope and extent of ecommerce
      • Consumer trust in the digital market
      • International guidelines for the regulation of e-commerce
  • Internships on the most successful consumer protection initiatives and online dispute resolution

    • As part of Competition and Consumer Protection Policies in Latin America (COMPAL) internship programme, these workshops were a great opportunity for representatives to learn about international best practices and discuss issues with other officials working in the same domain.

      For instance, in February 2017, Legal and ICT officers from Chile and Uruguay attended one-week internship to learn on two of the most successful consumer protection initiatives of Mexico:

      1. The laboratory for testing consumer products.
      2. Concilianet (an online consumer conciliation platform)- in Spanish only

  • Training course on e-commerce and consumer protection for Latin America 2015

    • As part of the COMPAL programme, the event was designed to inform and support policy makers and enforcers from COMPAL’s 16 member countries in the region.

      Following the success of this event, the training course was replicated on a national level, reaching 600 participants from government, civil society and business. An internal evaluation showed the e-commerce capacities of participating national authorities increased by 64% following the course.

      See the video below- in spanish only

    • 600
      from government, civil society and business
      represented at training courses
      64 % increased
      in e-commerce capacities
      of participating nations
  • E-commerce and Complaint Handling Workshop Beirut (October 2016)

    • The event was a great opportunity to learn about:

      • the potential e-commerce brings to citizens and businesses;
      • the barriers encountered and the importance of regulation in overcoming many of these barriers;
      • consumers legal rights – a driver to better business compliance;
      • relationship between regulator and regulated.

      Furthermore, the workshop also discussed the concept of Regional Complaint Handling as an opportunity to deliver a world leading consumer protection system and greater cross-border trade.

Impact Stories

  • Peru: training officials to train their staff

    • Based in the city of Chiclayo, Ana Leyva is Head of the Regional Office of Peru’s Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (INDECOPI). In 2015, she was selected to take part in an intensive one-week course organized by COMPAL on consumer protection in e-commerce.

      After the course, she followed a programme of virtual training and in-person sessions, enabling her to train her own colleagues in Chiclayo. Her teaching helped staff members at her Regional Office increase their knowledge of consumer protection and e-commerce by 40%. Overall, thanks to the efforts of Ana and other participants of the COMPAL course, 222 Peruvian officials were trained in five different cities.

    • Thanks to the training course, I’ve connected with colleagues from all over Latin America and now feel better prepared to provide a satisfactory response to consumers from Chiclayo.
      Ana Leyva

      Head of Regional Office for Peru’s Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (INDECOPI)


For Whom

ParliamentariansPolicy makersLegal professionalsBusiness AssociationsCorporationsMSMEsSMEsResearchersTeachersExpertsDecision makers


  • International organizations

    • OECD
    • International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network
  • National agencies or bodies

    • National Consumer Protection Authorities
  • Regional organizations

    • ASEAN
    • SELA
    • European Commission
    • Ibero-American Consumer Protection Network
    • African Consumer Dialogue
  • Professional associations

    • International Chamber of Commerce
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

    • Consumers International
    • MGP India
  • Academia

    • UNCTAD’s Research Partnership Platform
    • Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
    • British Institute of International and Comparative Law, United Kingdom
    • Bruegel, Brussles, Netherlands
    • Center for Competition, Intellectual Property, Consumer Protection and Trade, ESAN University, Peru
    • Centre for Competition Law & Policy, National Law University Jodhpur, India
    • Center for Competition Law and Policy, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China
    • Center for Development and Protection of Competition Policy,  Kazakhstan
    • Centre for European Legal Studies, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
    • Center for European Studies, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
    • Center for Global Consumer Protection Policy and Law of Wuhan University, China
    • Centre du droit de la consommation et du marché, Université Montpellier 1, France
    • Centre for Competition Law and Policy, University of Oxford,  United Kingdom
    • Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
    • Centre Européen de Droit & d’économie (CEDE), ESSEC Business School, France
    • Centre for Regulation and Market Analysis, University of South Australia, Australia
    • Center of Excellence for Competitiveness at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Kashipur, India
    • Centro de Libre Competencia, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile
    • Columbia Law School, United States of America
    • Competition and Economic Law Research Group, University of New South Wales, Australia
    • Consumers Empowerment Organisation of Nigeria, Nigeria
    • Duke University, Department of Political Science and Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, United States of America
    • Doshisha University Faculty of Law and Graduate School of Law, Japan
    • Faculty of Law and Graduate School of Law, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan
    •  Ho Chi Minh City University of Law, Vietnam
    • Institut d’Economie Industrielle, Université de Toulouse 1, France
    • Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Faculty of Law of the University of Macau, China
    • Institute for Competitiveness, India
    • Institute of Business Law, ZHAW School of Management and Law, Switzerland
    • Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA), Zurich
    • Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, Ghana
    • Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, United States of America
    • Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, Kenya
    • King’s College London, United Kingdom
    • Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law, Germany
    • Melbourne Law School, Australia
    • Nagoya University Graduate School of Law, Japan
    • New York University School of Law, United States of America
    • Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru, Peru
    • Queen’s University Belfast School of Law, United Kingdom
    • Queen Mary University of London, School of Law, United Kingdom
    • Research Group on Economic Law and International Economic Law, Waseda University, Japan
    • Research Group on International Studies, Universidad EAFIT, Colombia
    • Research Institution of Competitive Law, East China University of Political Science and Law, China
    • Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico
    • Thailand Development Research Institution, Thailand
    • Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa – TRALAC
    • Universidad Católica de Chile/Centro de Libre Competencia, Chile
    • University College London (UCL) Centre for Law and Economics & Jevons Institute for Competition Law and Economics, UCL Faculty of Laws, United Kingdom
    • Universidad de Chile Facultad de Derecho, Chile
    • University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
    • Universidad EAFIT, Colombia
    • Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo, Ecuador
    • University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy (CCLP), United Kingdom
    • Universidad Sergio Arboleda, Bogotá, Colombia
    • Université de Toulousse, France
    • Yeditepe University Faculty of Law, Turkey