Your Consumer Rights

World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated on 15 March each year - the anniversary of the speech given in 1962 by US President John F. Kennedy in which he declared four basic consumer rights:  

  • the right to safety
  • the right to be informed
  • the  right to choose  
  • the right to be heard.

Two decades later, in the 1980s, four more rights were added by the international coalition of consumer groups:

  • the right to satisfaction of basic needs  
  • the right to redress
  • the right to consumer education
  • the right to a healthy environment.  

Since that time these eight rights have formed the basis for ongoing work by consumer groups throughout the world.

The rights can be described in the following terms:

 

The  right to satisfaction  of  basic needs  -  to  have access to basic, essential goods and services:  adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education and sanitation.

The right to a healthy environment  -  to live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the  well-being of present and future generations.

The  right  to  safety  -  to be protected against products, production processes and services that are  hazardous to health or life.

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  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 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  choose  -  to be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive  prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.

 


The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) are "a valuable set of principles for setting out the main characteristics of effective consumer protection legislation, enforcement institutions and redress systems and for assisting interested Member States in formulating and enforcing domestic and regional laws, rules and regulations that are suitable to their own economic and social and environmental circumstances, as well as promoting international enforcement cooperation among Member States and encouraging the sharing of experiences in consumer protection."

The guidelines were first adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 39/248 of 16 April 1985 and were recently revised by the General Assembly in resolution 70/186 of 22 December 2015.

The UN promotes the guidelines and encourages interested member States to create awareness of the many ways in which member States, businesses and civil society can promote consumer protection in the provision of public and private goods and services.

An Intergovernmental group of experts on consumer protection law and policy has been established to monitor the implementation of the guidelines, provide a forum for consultations, produce research and studies, provide technical assistance, undertake voluntary peer reviews, and periodically update the UNGCP.

Click here for more information on the crucial role that Consumers International has played in keeping the Guidelines up to date.


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In 1962 President Kennedy laid out principles that would become the foundation for a Consumer Bill of Rights -- rights to safety, information, choice, and to be heard. 

Click here to see the March 2012 address to the US Congress by Senator Richard Blumenthal marking the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's call for a consumer bill of rights.