The UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection is the most important international document in the field of consumer protection. The UN General Assembly adopted the guidelines of consensus 1985. 1999 was expanded with the statutes on sustainable consumption. Guidelines invite states to protect consumers against health and safety risks, promote and protect the economic interests of consumers, enabling consumers to make informed choices, promote sustainable consumption patterns and guarantee freedom to form consumer groups
The term consumer refers to those individuals or groups who use the result of Woolly Bears decisions and activities. It does not necessarily mean that the consumer pays money for products and services.
The UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expresses principles, that for us at Woolly Bear sets the lowest level in terms of practical application of social responsibility regarding consumers’ legitimate needs. These legitimate needs include:
- Security; Access to non-hazardous products and protection of consumers against health and safety risks caused by production processes, products and services.
- Be informed; Consumer access to adequate information to make informed choices according to individual wishes and needs to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labelling.
- Making choices; The promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interests, including the ability to choose from a wide range of products and services offered at competitive prices with a guarantee of satisfactory quality.
- To be heard; Freedom to form consumer groups and other relevant groups or organizations and the opportunity of such organizations to present their views in decision-making processes which affect them, particularly when public policies are designed and implemented, and in the development of products and services.
- Indemnification; Access to effective redress for consumers, especially in the form of a fair settlement of legitimate claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, badly made products or unsatisfactory service.
- Education; Consumer education, including education on the environmental, social and economic impacts of consumer choice, which allows consumers able to make informed, independent choices relating to products and services while they are aware of their rights and responsibilities and how they can act on these.
- Healthy environment; This constitutes an environment that does not threaten the welfare of present and future generations. The sustainable consumption includes meeting the needs of present and future generations of products and services in a manner that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
Other principles include:
- Respect for the right to privacy; This principle is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12, which declares that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference in their privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon their honour, and that all shall have the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
- Precautionary approach; This is drawn from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and subsequent declarations and agreements, who put forward the principle. That if there are threats of serious or irreversible harm to the environment or human health, the lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation or damage to human health. In considering the cost of a measure, an organization should consider the long-term costs and benefits of this measure, not only the short-term economic costs of the organization.
- Promotion of gender equality and strengthening the position of women; This principle is taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals. It provides an additional basis for the analysis of consumer issues and prevent perpetuation of gender stereotypes.
- Promote universal design; It is the design of products and environments to be used by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or special design. There are seven principles of universal design: equivalent use, flexible use, simple and intuitive use, understandable information, tolerance for error, low physical weight, and that the size and scope adapted to the activity.