United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. UNCTAD is also the focal point within United Nations for all work relating to competition and consumer protection.
This mandate dates back to the adoption of the United Nations Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices in 1980 and the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection adopted in 1985 and expanded in 1999.
The objectives of UNCTAD's work on consumer protection are the following:
- Assist countries in achieving adequate legal framework and institutions and for the protection of consumers;
- Further international cooperation in the field of consumer protection and share best practices;
- Encourage development of market conditions which provide consumers with greater choice and lower prices;
- Raise awareness on consumer protection;
- Promote sustainable consumption;
- Promote policies that strike a balance between consumer protection and minimizing costs to business.
UNCTAD offers technical assistance and capacity building support in the following areas:
- Drafting of consumer protection policy, laws and related regulations and guidelines;
- Support to institutional set up of consumer protection agencies;
- Awareness raising and communication strategy on consumer protection;
- Training programmes for officials handling consumer issues;
- Market surveys;
- Conduct of peer reviews;
- Networking and exchange of experience.