ISO - who or what is it?
ISO = International Organization for Standardization. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and is a voluntary organisation.
The aim of ISO is to promote the development of standards and related activities throughout the world.
The main products of ISO are Standards, published as International Standards. ISO standards are each developed by a panel of experts, within the structure of technical committee. ISO 9001 is just one of more than 19,000 standards they have developed. Around 1100 new ones are published each year.
ISO is funded by a combination of organisations for specific projects, subscriptions from member bodies and selling copies of their standards.
What ISO does do
- ISO oversees and co-ordinates the development, review and publication of standards
And what ISO does not do
- ISO does not do any certification audits - the organisations who do this are certifiers (also called accreditation bodies or registrars)
- ISO does not issue certificates - certifiers do this
- ISO does not control or get involved in certification - this is performed quite independently of ISO by other organisations.
- ISO is not a government body.
Who belongs to ISO?
The central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, coordinates a worldwide network of national standards bodies, one in each country who is a member of ISO. There were 162 members in 2011.
ISO members are not delegates of national governments (unlike the United Nations). Many member bodies are part of the government structure of their country or mandated by their government, while many other members are very definitely from the private sector, such as in Australia. This puts ISO in a unique position, to be a bridge between various parties to find consensus on solutions that will meet what business requires, as well as the broader society needs of stakeholder groups such as consumers and users such as you and me.
The Links page has link to the official ISO website with more information.
Author: Jane Bennett