The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

The International Organization for Standardization known as ISO is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations.

Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

It was one of the first organizations granted general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards give state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. Developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade.

The organization today known as ISO began in 1926 as the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA). It was suspended in 1942 during World War II, but after the war ISA was approached by the recently formed United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee (UNSCC) with a proposal to form a new global standards body. In October 1946, ISA and UNSCC delegates from 25 countries met in London and agreed to join forces to create the new International Organization for Standardization; the new organization officially began operations in February 1947.

ISO membership categories

ISO has 164 national members, out of the 206 total countries in the world.

ISO has three membership categories:

  • Member bodies are national bodies considered the most representative standards body in each country. These are the only members of ISO that have voting rights.
  • Correspondent members are countries that do not have their own standards organization. These members are informed about ISO’s work, but do not participate in standards promulgation.
  • Subscriber members are countries with small economies. They pay reduced membership fees, but can follow the development of standards.

ISO is a voluntary organization whose members are recognized authorities on standards, each one representing one country. Members meet annually at a General Assembly to discuss ISO’s strategic objectives. The organization is coordinated by a Central Secretariat based in Geneva.

A Council with a rotating membership of 20 member bodies provides guidance and governance, including setting the Central Secretariat’s annual budget.

The Technical Management Board is responsible for over 250 technical committees, who develop the ISO standards.

ISO has formed joint committees with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to develop standards and terminology in the areas of electrical, electronic and related technologies.

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