Consumers International


An organization of consumer groups around the world, consumers international is the biggest consumer rights protection body in the world. Consumers international has 250 member organizations from around the world and its head office is located in England. The organization has numerous membership organizations in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

The organization was established on April 1, 1960, as the International Organization of Consumer Unions (IOCU). It was established by Elizabeth Schadee and Caspar Brook. Schadee later became the chairperson of Netherlands' Consumentenbond and Caspar was the first director of the United Kingdom’s consumer association.

Schadee and Caspar proposed an international conference for planning consumer product testing worldwide. The US Consumers Union provided USD 10,000 for the event at the request of Colson Warne.

About Consumers International

The first international conference on consumer testing was held in Hague in January 1960. Representatives from fourteen countries attended the event and proposed an international organization for consumer unions. The Australian Consumers' Association and Belgian Association des Consommateurs joined the three conference sponsors - the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the US, as the five founding organizations that became the international organization's initial council.

  • Consumers International has 250 members that are independent consumer organizations from 120 countries. Most of these member organizations (about two-thirds) come from developing nations and the rest come from industrialized countries.

    The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) is hosted by Consumers International. TACD is a consumer forum for the US and UK consumer organizations that are engaged in policymaking for the EU and US markets. The TACD works out of the London headquarter of Consumers International.

  • Consumers International members observe World Consumer Rights Day on 15th March. It was started by Anwar Fazal, a consumer rights activist in 1983. The day is observed celebrating and in solidarity with the international consumer rights movement. The members and participants observe the day by promoting consumer rights and opposing market abuse and social injustice met by consumers around the world. The World Consumer Rights Day has new themes every year to reflect and celebrate the changing trends in the consumer rights and responsibility landscape.

    The theme for 2018 World Consumer Rights Day was Fairer Digital Marketplaces where Consumers International was calling for 1. Access to genuine, fair, and secure internet. 2. Action against digital scams and fraud and 3. Better common consumer protection online.

  • The Theme for 2019 was "Trusted Smart Products" which highlighted the consumers' needs for IoT smart products like smartphones and wearables. The theme for 2020 was "The Sustainable Consumer" to spread awareness and accumulate support for respite from environmental breakdown and climate and environmental changes.

    Consumers International has raised voices for consumer groups and populations from around the world. It has been instrumental in opposing unhealthy and risky products’ marketing and abuse whilst the organization is also active in spreading awareness that is better for mankind. The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) formed by Consumers International along with some other organizations opposed the high-profile marketing of artificial baby foods that undermined breastfeeding in 1979. Due to widespread protests, the World Health Organization adopted the International Code of Marketing on Breast Milk Substitutes which was the first code against baby food manufacturing companies

  • In 1981, Consumers International founded Health Action International (HAI) to oppose the abuse by drug manufacturers and for the safe, rational, and economic use of pharmaceuticals.

    Consumers International holds a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the highest membership status offered to any non-governmental organization to participate in the works of the United Nations. It also works closely with the International Organization for Standardization to create standards for finding solutions for global challenges.

    Apart from having its headquarters in London, CI has offices in Chile, Latin America, the Caribbean, South Africa, Oman (Middle East), Malaysia (Asia Pacific), and India (South East Asia).

Adoption of UN Guidelines for Consumers by the United Nations

The UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) are a broader set of rules that set out the rules for the protection, legislation, enforcement, and redressal of consumer grievances on a large scale. It assists the member organizations in making the rules, laws, and guidelines that are sustainable for their own economic and social circumstances.

These guidelines are used as milestones by consumer protection agencies in formulating the rules that will assist consumers in the case of their safeguarding any case of violation of consumer rights. The guidelines also promote international enforcement cooperation and encourage sharing of experiences by member states.

The UNGCP was first adopted on 16 April 1985 by the General Assembly. It was later expanded by the Economic and Social Council in 1999 and then again revised by the General Assembly in 2015.

UNCTAD is the body of the UN that promotes the guidelines and encourages interested member States to create awareness. Awareness among consumers can be created in many ways. The awareness lets the member States, businesses, and civil society promote consumer protection. The provisions include private and public goods and services.

The Intergovernmental group that has expertise on issues related to consumer protection law and policy has been established by the UN to monitor the implementation of the guidelines, and to provide a forum for consultations. The provisions are also used to produce research and development studies, provide technical assistance in case of any such need and undertake voluntary peer reviews, and update the UNGCP from time to time. The first session of UNCTAD was held on 17 and 18 October 2016 in Geneva.

The UNGCP was adopted by consensus in the UN in 1985. A long campaign by consumer associations in many countries, with Consumers International acting as interlocutors with the United Nations followed. This led to the preparation of a 'Model Code for consumer protection' at the World congress in Sydney in 1975.

The UNGCP was expanded by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) multiple times and ad-hoc meetings were held to increase the areas of consideration of consumer rights. The final resolution of the UNGCP was 70/186 which was adopted on 22 December, 2015.


Consumers International is the largest international body that raises voices for consumers in the world. It also represents the 250 member organizations that look after the protection of consumers from predatory business practices. In a world that is run by powerful and wealthy companies, there may be various types of unethical practices for profit maximization and generating big revenues. Opposing such initiatives needs a powerful voice. Consumers international is such an organization that can put the issues of the public on the table for social justice and the general good. That is why it is a powerful and utilitarian organization that must be supported by all ethical entities.


Qns 1. When was Consumers International offered the General Consultative status by the United Nations?

Ans. The United Nations offered the General Consultative status to Consumers International in 1977 via the Economic and Social Committee.

Qns 2. What is meant by UNGCP?

Ans. UNGCP refers to the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection that set out the measures that can protect consumers from unethical business practices.

Qns 3. When was UNGCP first adopted?

Ans. The UNGCP was first adopted on 16 April 1985 by the General Assembly.

Updated on: 06-Dec-2022


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