ISO Committee on consumer policy
Consumer protection in the global
Using standards as a safeguard
Kyoto, 24 May 2000
Summaries of papers to be delivered and
in annex biographical sketches of the speakers,
moderators and panellists
The global marketplace presents challenges and opportunities for consumer protection.
Consumers International (CI) wants all consumers to be protected equally and the poorest
consumers to reap real benefits from globalization.
In the global marketplace, consumer protection is more complex – and the role of
international standards is fundamental. But for this role to be fully realised and recognized,
standards need to be relevant, timely and achieve their dual objectives of protecting
consumers and facilitating trade. The legitimacy of international standards that have been
developed by only some of the necessary stakeholders has been recently called into question
during reviews of relevant WTO Agreements. The standard-setting process needs to have full
participation by all interested stakeholders – producers and consumers, industrialized and
developing countries – not only in the standardization process but also in the enforcement of
standards where applicable.
Examples of current disproportionate participation and its effects on the lives of consumers
will be given.
In any marketplace – local or global – the critical factor is consumer confidence. Standards
can be a tool for achieving this. Consequently, we need: increased consumer awareness of
standards and their role (consumer education and information from independent consumer
organizations); increased consumer participation in the standard-setting process (nationally
and internationally); and increased monitoring of the use of standards (including recognition
of the role of independent consumer organizations as "watch-dogs" in the market