In his historic address to the US Congress in 1962, US President John F. Kennedy outlined his vision of consumer rights. This vision eventually became source of inspiration to and embodied in all national, regional and international consumer protection works and advocacy, as well as rallied in the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection in 1985.
The Consumers International (CI), a global consumer protection movement of 240 consumer organizations in 120 countries, defines those rights as:
#1 The Right To Satisfaction of Basic Needs
To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.
#2 The Right To Safety
To be protected against products, production processes and services that are hazardous to health or life.
#3 The Right To Be Informed
To be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labeling.
#4 The Right To Choose
To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
#5 The Right To Be Heard
To have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.
#6 The Right To Redress
To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
#7 The Right To Consumer Education
To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
#8 The Right To A Healthy Environment
To live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
In 1980s, CI’s then president, Anwar Fazal, advocate to also introduce consumer responsibilities to go hand in hand with consumer rights.
Critical Awareness – consumers must be awakened to be more questioning about the provision of the quality of goods and services. Involvement or action – consumers must assert themselves and act to ensure that they get a fair deal.
Social Responsibility – consumers must act with social responsibility, with concern and sensitivity to the impact of their actions on other citizens, in particular, in relation to disadvantaged groups in the community and in relation to the economic and social realties prevailing.
Ecological Responsibility – there must be a heightened sensitivity to the impact of consumer decisions on the physical environment, which must be developed to a harmonious way, promoting conservation as the most critical factor in improving the real quality of life for the present and the future.
Solidarity – the best and most effective action is through cooperative efforts through the formation of consumer/citizen groups who together can have the strength and influence to ensure that adequate attention is given to the consumer interest.