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ISO

ISO logo.JPG
Type: Non-Governmental Organization
Industry: International Standardization
Founded: February 23, 1947
Headquarters: Geneva
Country: Switzerland
Website: www.iso.org
Key People
Dr. Boris Aleshin, President
Sadao Takeda, VP Policy
Jacob Holmblad, VP Technical Management
Julien Pitton, Treasurer
Rob Steele, Secretary General/CEO

International Standards Organization (ISO) is a non-governmental organization composed of a network of national standards institutes from 163 countries.[1] ISO develops, publishes, and holds the largest repository of international standards. The founders of the ISO derived the name of the organization from the Greek word "isos," meaning equal. English, French, and Russian are the official languages used by ISO. Its headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland.[2]

Historical Background

ISO was officially established on February 23, 1947. The establishment of the organization was a result of a meeting in London, attended by delegates from 25 countries. ISO was formed when the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA) and the United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee (UNSCC) combined.[3] Upon its establishment in 1947, a meeting in Paris was held and 67 ISO technical committees were recommended. The first general assembly of the ISO was held in Paris in 1949. ISO's membership started to increase to include more developing countries within the next ten years. The International standard that were created in the 1950s and 60s were highly beneficial to developing countries because they offered vast information about technology. The developing countries, however, were unable to use these international standards because they did not have established industrial infrastructures, related technical components, or adequate financial and technical resources. The DEVCO Committee was established in 1961 in response to the needs of its members from developing nations.[4]

In 1968, the Correspondent Member was created as a category for organizations from countries without fully-developed national standards. Correspondent Members do no participate in the technical and policy development work of the ISO but received full information on issues relevant to their organization.[5][6]

In 1971, ISO began publishing its technical works as International Standards. This paved the way to the expansion of the organization, which became an international specialized organization actively involved in international communities.[7]

In 1979, the ISO Technical Committee (TC) 176, Quality Management and Quality Assurance was established. In 1986, the ISO/TC 176 released ISO 8402 as its first standard defining the standard terminology for quality management. Subsequently in 1987, TC 176 published ISO 9001, IS0 9002, ISO 9003 and 1SOP 9004; a complete a requirement and guidance for quality management systems including Research & Development used by different organizations.[8]

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and ISO collaborated and were directly involved on environmental standards in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the 1992 Earth Summit. The two organization established the Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment (SAGE), which submitted recommendations on environmental management and to create a new ISO Technical Committee to develop standards on this area. In 1993, the ISO/TC 207 Environmental Management was officially created. In 1996, the committee published its first standard, ISO 14001, Environmental Systems Specification with Guidance.[9]

At present, ISO is one of the three primary organizations providing international standardization, together with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU). ISO maintains that its international standards comply with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.[10]

Structure

A five-year strategic plan approved by the ISO members serves as a guideline in the operations of the organization.[11]

The General Assembly is the highest authority of the organization, which is composed of its Principal officers and delegates appointed by the member bodies. Members of the General Assembly meet every year and the President is the Chairman. The membership of the General Assembly is divided into three categories:

  • Members Bodies, which are the only members with the right to vote
  • Correspondent Members
  • Subscriber Members[12]

The governance of ISO is handled by the Council, which meets twice a year and is composed of different policy development committees including:

  • Conformity Assessment Committee (CASCO)
  • Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO)
  • Committee for Developing Country matters (DEVCO)[13]

The Technical Management Board (TMB) handles the management of the technical work as well as some of the organization's strategic and technical advisory groups. It reports to the Council. The Secretary General (CEO) manages the operations at the ISO Central Secretariat Office in Geneva.

The ISO Central Secretariat has 154 full-time staff from 124 countries who are tasked to provide administrative and technical support to ISO Members.[14] It is also responsible for coordinating and publishing the output of the decentralized standards development program and serves as the secretariat of the governing bodies, policy development committees and their subsidiary bodies.[15]

Development of ISO Standards

New ISO Standards are developed when a proposal is submitted by sectors or stakeholders and then approved by the majority members of the Technical Committee, which identifies the global relevance of the proposal. The three policy development committees of the ISO also submit recommendations to develop new international standards for their stakeholder groups.[16]

The development of international standards undergoes six stages:

  • Stage 1: Proposal stage. A proposal is submitted indicating that a new international standard is necessary and needs to be approved by majority of the TC or subcommittees. If the proposal is approved, a project leader will be chosen.
  • Stage 2: Preparatory stage. The TC/SC will convene a Working Group for the project to prepare several working drafts until the best technical solution is satisfactorily developed. The first draft will be forwarded to the parent committee to build consensus.
  • Stage 3: Committee stage. The draft is registered with the ISO Central Secretariat and distributed for comments. In this stage, the participating members of the TC may require successive committee drafts until a consensus for the technical content is developed. A Draft International Standard (DIS) will be finalized.
  • Stage 4: Enquiry stage. The ISO Central Secretariat distributes the DIS to the ISO bodies for comments and voting within five months to be approved as the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS). If it is not approved by the majority (2/3) of the participating members, the DIS it will be returned to the original TC/SC to work on the technical reasons based on the negative feedback and resubmit for reconsideration.
  • Stage 5: Approval stage. The ISO Central Secretariat will distribute the FDIS to be approved as an International Standard by 2/3 majority votes from the ISO member bodies.
  • Stage 6: Publication stage. If necessary, minor editing will be done on the final text and then it will be sent to ISO Central Secretariat and published as ISO International Standard.[17]

ISO publishes around 1100 new standards every year. More than 18,500 international standards have already been developed and published by the organization on different subjects. The best selling ISO standards include:

  • ISO 26000:2010 - Guidance on Social Responsibility
  • ISO 31000:2009 - Risk Management - Principles and Guidelines
  • ISO 14001:2004 - Environmental Management Systems - Requirements with Guidance for Use[18]

ISO and ICANN

Country Code Top Level Domain Names (ccTLDs) were introduced and implemented by Jon Postel, then head of the Internet Names and Number Authority (IANA), through RFC 920 [19] & RFC 1591, which stated that the two-letter country codes are based on ISO 3166-1.[20][21] In September 2000, the ICANN Board approved a resolution confirming that the alpha-2 codes under ISO-3166-1 can be delegated as ccTLDs, unless the code is reserved by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency.[22]

References