Report of the working groups – UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection 2022
The Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy heard reports by the UNCTAD secretariat on three working groups, respectively focusing on: (i) consumer product safety; (ii) consumer protection in electronic commerce; and (iii) modalities of UNCTAD voluntary peer reviews of competition and consumer protection laws and policies. The experts also considered decisions on the future mandates of the working groups.
Consumer product safety
The presentation on the working group on consumer product safety requested the IGE to renew the mandate of the working group, particularly with a view to: (i) continue work on strengthening consumer product safety frameworks at the regional and national levels; (ii) improving international cooperation to protect consumers from hazards to their health and safety; and (iii) propose practical means for the implementation of the recommendation on preventing cross border distribution of known unsafe consumer products.
In a written contribution submitted prior to the meeting, CUTS International emphasized the importance of certain aspects in consumer product safety, such as: (i) Standards could be made mandatory for more products that impact the health and safety of the consumer; (ii) Governments and regulators should focus more on ensuring the safety of products linked to new technologies and on the challenges posed by online sales growth; (iii) Working towards a sub-regional, regional and global coalition for consumer protection; (iv) Agreeing on some standard rules for product labelling, instructions and safety warnings ; and (v) Need to carry out large-scale sensitization campaigns about product safety, e.g. on basic aspects like Maximum Retail Price (MRP), expiry dates etc.
Consumer protection in electronic commerce
the presentation on the working group on consumer protection in electronic commerce recommended enhancing cross-border cooperation, as well as promoting educational programs and awareness activities. It also called for advances in global online dispute resolution, and for developing a potential model law on consumer protection and dispute resolution in B2C e-commerce transactions. The need for tools to address green claims was also stressed, as most countries lack specific regulations to tackle it. The IGE was requested to extend the mandate of the working group, particularly to continue work on cross-border cooperation aspects.
The working group on modalities of UNCTAD voluntary peer review exercises requested IGE to welcome the revised methodological guidelines for peer reviews and discontinue the working group.