Arab Consumer Protection: An Analytical Study of Rights and Guarantees

Prof. Zainab Awadallah
Professor of Economics and Public Finance – Faculty of Law – University of Kuwait


In the 1960s, consumerism became prominent in the United States, after its industrialisation, market economies flourished. The consumer movement was a response in Europe, and in Canada, to what was perceived as overwhelming market forces to the detriment of the consumer.
The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) are “a valuable set of principles for setting out the main characteristics of effective consumer protection legislation, enforcement institutions and redress systems and for assisting interested Member States in formulating and enforcing domestic and regional laws, rules and regulations that are suitable to their own economic and social and environmental circumstances, as well as promoting international enforcement cooperation among Member States and encouraging the sharing of experiences in consumer protection.” They were first adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 39/248 of 16 April 1985, later expanded by th Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in resolution E/1999/INF/2/Add.2 of 26 July 1999, and recently revised by the General Assembly in resolution 70/186 of 22 December 2015.
In regulatory jurisdictions that provide for this (a list including most or all developed countries, also the Arab countries, with free market economies) consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers, as well as fair trade, competition, and accurate information in the marketplace. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.
Consumer protection concerns the efforts of governments, not-for-profit organizations and activists to protect consumer rights, by taking into account consumers’ needs and interests. The scope of consumer protection covers measures against predatory pricing abusive business practices, unfair business practices, fraud and misrepresentation. Apart from legislation, self-regulation, including codes of conduct, also guarantees consumer protection.
A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law. Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer.
What is the need and importance of Consumer Protection?
Importance of consumer protection does not isolate the business. Financial institutions and banks provide finance to business. Government provides support and incentives. Employees contribute their time, skill and labour. Consumers are ready to pay for value. The businessmen can get the best support of all these parties only when it stops exploiting its customers.
To conclude, the importance of Consumer Protection is to safeguard consumers from any kind of exploitation from business organizations and ensuring the position of ‘King of Market’ to consumer.

Read Full PDF Text (Arabic)