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The impact of international law on consumer protection

At the international level, consumer law measures are not conceived as formally binding instruments. They may, instead, be regarded as a step towards creating mandatory norms of international law and a catalyst for reform.[1] The adoption of international Consumer Guidelines by the UN shows a general acceptance of consumer protection as an international principle, and has already stimulated important changes in national laws, even at the constitutional level.[2] Indeed, following such Guidelines, several countries have introduced laws and raised consumer protection to the constitutional level.[3] Furthermore, as shown by Consumers International, at least 26 national constitutions already contain specific provisions on consumer protection.[4] Thus, the UN Guidelines provided an important example and source of inspiration for countries wishing to include consumer rights in their legal system. Although international consumer protection is still soft law, it is undoubtedly having a considerable impact on national consumer law.

  • [1] D. Harland, ‘The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection’, (1987) 10 J. Consumer Policy, p. 251.
  • [2] Deutch (n 4), pp. 573-4.
  • [3] D. Harland, ‘Implementing the Principles of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection’, (1991) 33 J. Indian Law Institute, pp. 189 etseq.
  • [4] Countries including constitutional provisions are, for instance, Vietnam, South Africa,Turkey, Andorra, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Argentina,Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Mexico; see more at ConsumersInternational: .
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