ADDRESS AND SPEECH OF THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE OF BRAZIL, MR. TORQUATO JARDIM AT THE 3RD INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF EXPERTS MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT (UNCTAD)
ABSTRACT: For the occasion of the 3rd meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Law and Policy, the Brazilian Minister of Justice, Mr. Torquato Jardim addressed the importance of international cooperation to protect consumers. Mr. Jardim also referred to the importance of protecting consumers internationally mentioning the project of an International Convention at the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the theme of product safety.
KEYWORDS: Consumer Rights, consumer protection, international cooperation
In October 2016, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held, the First Session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Law and Policy. Such official meeting was a response to both consumer protection movement and the reformed United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection (UNGCP), which despite its more than 30 decades of existence did not have an official body in charge of its development, reference or mandate in the ambit of the United Nations.
Following the United Nations General Assembly resolution 70/186 of 22 December 2015, the mandate regarding the UNGCP and its implementation was appointed to the UN Conference on Trade and Development and its Competition and now, Consumer protection and policy Branch.
The advent of a reformed UNGCP not only made it possible the official creation of an Intergovernmental Group of Experts in the ambit of the United Nations but also addressed urgent and relevant themes such as tourism, data protection, financial services, e-commerce and included the special topic on the creation of an Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer protection (IGE).
Brazil had an active role during the discussions of the reform of the UNGCP, especially in what refers to the themes data protection and privacy and tourism. As for previous experiences with major international events such as the World Football Cup and the Olympics, the country was very much engaged in developing the culture of protecting consumers as well as tools to provide access to justice, access to information. Apart from that, Brazil has still a lot of touristic potential to be developed and only recently became the last G20 country to approve specific legislation on data protection and privacy.
The representativeness of Brazil at both the Hague Conference of Private International Law and UNCTAD was crucial for the inclusion of the theme of the international protection of consumers and access to justice at the Hague as well as the inclusion of Tourism as Guideline N. 78 in the UNGCP reform of 2015.
Apart from the themes of data protection and tourism, another important area in which Brazil has taken a lead is consumer product safety (or consumer health and safety). Brazil is one of the founding members of the Organisation of American States Consumer Safety and Health Network (CSHN) and has also taken part in several OECD meetings (at the Committee on Consumer Policy CCP) to share its experience in the field of consumer product safety.
Brazil consumer protection policies, both in the national and international fields are based on a very interesting cooperation agenda, focusing on a network of stakeholders related to the topic of consumer protection: health, metrology, privacy, transport, tourism and, of course, the interaction and cooperation among consumer protection agencies.
All these policies and agendas were confirmed by the words of the Brazilian Minister of Justice himself, when he addressed a short statement to the audience at the 3rd Intergovernmental Group of Experts meeting on the 9th July 2018.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF EXPERTS ON CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW AND POLICY
July 9, 2018 – Opening Session
Thank you chair. It is with great honor that, on behalf of the Brazilian delegation, I address this group with some words about Brazilian expectations on the upcoming discussions, and, if you allow me, some updates on Brazilian public policies in the field of consumer protection.
Consumers’ rights are granted by the Brazilian Federal Constitution since 1988. Additionally, we enacted the Code of Consumer Protection in 1990, and since then, the Ministry of Justice has been responsible for coordinating the national policy in this matter, promoting the protection of our consumers.
It is undeniable that consumers’ rights have been widely recognized as an important matter in the past few years. We believe that the development of an international framework as the UN Guidelines was crucial to set a worldwide movement towards a balanced relationship between consumers and providers.
The present meeting also provides us with a great opportunity to exchange experiences, important information and best practices on consumer protection. Despite the progresses made national and internationally, there is still field to improve dialogue among our countries, in order to provide a greater protection to our consumers wherever they are. For instance, the idea of protecting international tourists in consumer’s relations is imperative. In a globalized world, it is reasonable to sustain that a citizen from a foreign country should be provided with exactly the same protection as a national. Just as a prominent example, the Hague Conference on Private International Law is conducting a broad discussion in this regard, and we all should get involved.
That is just an example on how consumer protection agencies should be aligned and cooperate with each other. I could also go further and mention the importance of the adoption of a World Consumer Rights Day within the United Nations. The symbolism of such step would certainly contribute to raise awareness about consumer´s rights and, I am sure, would also send to international community the message that countries here represented are engaged with this subject.
The safety of products is also one of the main priorities for Brazil in the field of consumer protection. The cooperation in this matter with other consumer protection agencies and with agencies of other natures is crucial to avoid risky products being commercialized in our countries. Address the discussion on consumers’ safety and health on a multilateral basis is essential to improve our consumer protection policies. For instance, the Organization of American States (OAS) has integrated its member States to exchange information on consumer product safety. The Consumer Safety and Health Network of the OAS has a collaborative alert system that assembles all recall procedures dealt by its member states. After all, there is a growing number of same products being commercialized in many different countries; and we all must be aware of their risks.
As a commitment to the UN Guidelines regarding Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, I also want to emphasize that the Ministry of Justice of Brazil is improving the online platform Consumidor.gov.br, which is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. In four years, this platform, which will be presented in details tomorrow, has registered an average solution rate of 80%. The government prioritizes this kind of public policy and understands how important is addressing consumers’ demands trough alternative methods in order to reduce costly judicial processes.
It is worth mentioning, as well, the work made in the matter of electronic commerce and consumer data protection. Brazil is about to approve a bill that regulates personal data protection and privacy, impacting consumers’ relations and our domestic police on e-commerce. Such important topic should be addressed in future opportunities, considering its particularities and the consequences to our citizens.
The UN Guidelines are comprehensive, and they address major and essential topics. The Brazilian government has been embracing the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection since its adoption by the General Assembly, and we will keep internalizing them in all relevant matters.
Finally, I would like to reiterate the Brazilian government support to the valuable and important work carried by the UNCTAD Secretariat. There are many issues to be discussed during this meeting, and we hope we can all bear in mind the urging need to address those issues together.
Side Event – Tourism Project of the Hague Conference on Private International Law
July 10, 2018
09h00 – Room XVI
The importance of international protection of tourists
Thank you, chair. In 2013, the Brazilian government presented to the Hague Conference on Private International Law a proposal of a convention that aims at the international protection of tourists in the consumer relations. The idea took into consideration the tourism growth, its importance for economy, and the need to establish dispute resolution mechanisms trough administrative and legal cooperation among countries.
It is extremely important to create a legal instrument to facilitate consumer dispute resolution when it relates to tourism sector. It is necessary to ensure that tourists have access to justice, access to information and easier access to national networks of bodies that may ensure their protection as consumers.
The protection of international tourist in this suggested framework would be vital to Governments to promote even more structured consumer public policies that comprises all individuals.
It is essential to recall that the main goal of this convention is to provide international tourists with judicial and administrative mechanisms for consumer conflict resolution at the visited country, on an equal basis comparting to the persons who are nationals and/or habitually resident in that country. This would contribute to reduce bureaucracy and facilitate international consumer conflict solution. All of that would be possible by offering to tourists the already existing consumer protection framework.
Taking that into account, the Brazilian Government is highly engaged to the discussions held at the Hague Conference on Private International Law in this matter. For years, both Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs of Brazil are sparing no efforts in this regard. It is essential that other countries get involved too.
In sum, our idea with the Convention is:
- Provide international tourists with judicial and administrative mechanisms for consumer conflict resolution at the visited country;
- Provide information for international tourists about the procedures, as well as the existence of a multilingual form of complaints and the available channels;
- Establish a cooperation system between the authorities of each Contracting State;
- Use the already existing consumer protection systems;
- Reduce bureaucracy and facilitate international consumer conflict solution.
That being said, in order to advance in the protection of our citizens in consumer relations all over the globe, this discussion is imperative. As the representative of the Brazilian Government, I would like to stress the importance of this subject and urge you all to take this subject to your Missions at The Hague Conference and to your Ministries of Foreign Affairs, so we can advance on this.
 http://unctad.org/en/Pages/Meetings/Group-of-Experts-Consumer-Protection.aspx (Acessed on July 25th 2018).
 The guidelines were first adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 39/248 of 16 April 1985, later expanded by the Economic and Social Council in resolution E/1999/INF/2/Add.2 [link to: http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/UN-DESA_GCP1999_en.pdf] of 26 July 1999.