World Consumer Rights Day: History, Theme, and Significance

OV Digital Desk

World Consumer Rights Day is an annual day and is celebrated on 15 March of every year. World Consumer Rights Day is dedicated to highlighting the power of consumers and their rights for a fair, safe, and sustainable marketplace for everyone. It demands that consumer’s right are respected and protected against market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.

World Consumer Rights Day 2023: theme 

This year’s World Consumer Rights Day theme is “Empowering consumers through clean energy transitions”. The goal is to help consumers overcome challenges related to cost of living and increase access to reliable, affordable, sustainable, and modern energy.

About World Consumer Rights Day

World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on 15 March 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so. The consumer movement first marked that date in 1983 and now uses the day every year to mobilise action on important issues and campaigns. Over time, the consumer movement developed this into a broader vision of our rights and needs as consumers that now guides much of our work and that of our members.  The rights developed by Consumers International and its members are:

  • The right to satisfaction of basic needs – To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.
  • The right to safety – To be protected against products, production processes, and services that are hazardous to health or life.
  • 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 choose – To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
  • 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 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 a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.

Following successful campaigning by Consumers International, the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1985. These were brought up to date in 2015 when the General Assembly adopted the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection. These guidelines are an important tool, giving added legitimacy to the principles of consumer rights and practical support and guidance for the development of consumer protection around the world. The guidelines contain a number of consumer needs that broadly reflect consumer rights.