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International Documents on Corporate Responsibility

Edited by Stephen Tully

International Documents on Corporate Responsibility includes the principal international, regional and national instruments drafted by intergovernmental organisations or states as well as codes of conduct formulated by industry associations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations. The coverage includes the fields of human rights, international criminal and environmental law, labour standards, international trade, armed conflict, sustainable development, corruption, consumer protection and corporate governance. Each document is accompanied by a brief explanatory commentary outlining the historical origins of the instrument, the principal actors involved, controversial negotiation issues, applicable implementation procedure, and identifies further reference material.
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Chapter 119: UN: Guidelines for Consumer Protection, 1999


Commentary: In recognition that consumer protection influenced economic and social development, ECOSOC requested the UN Secretary-General to prepare a survey (1977) and comprehensive report (1979) for the purposes of formulating an international policy framework (1981). Draft guidelines were prepared in 1983 prior to their final adoption: UNGA Resolution 39/248 (1985). They were intended to assist governments to develop national law and policy with respect to consumer protection. The CSD called for an expanded version (UN Doc E/1995/32) in the light of changing consumption patterns: see Agenda 21, Chapter 4 and UN Secretary-General Reports, UN Docs E/CN.17/1995/13 & E/1995/70. ECOSOC made similar requests: ECOSOC Resolutions 1995/53 and 1997/53. Various proposals were made to incorporate the concept of sustainable consumption: see UN Secretary-General Report, UN Doc E/CN.17/1998/5 and the recommendations of the Interregional Expert Group Meeting on Consumer Protection and Sustainable Consumption, São Paulo, UN Doc E/CN.17/1998/5. The UNGA Resolution adopting the version of the Guidelines (UN Doc A/C.2/54/L.24 (1999)) encouraged relevant NGOs to support effective implementation. The extracts below are limited to corporate roles and responsibilities. The ICC has also formulated several consumer codes stating best marketing practice: see the International Code of Advertising Practice (1937 and revised 1949, 1955, 1966, 1973, 1987 and 1997); the Guidelines on Advertising and Marketing on the Internet (1998); and the International Code of Direct Selling (1999). Codes formulated by consumer organisations emphasise corporate adherence to national competition and advertising law: see, for example, Consumers International (1997), ‘A Consumer Charter for Global Business’, London; Consumers...

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