Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national
standards bodies from some 130 countries, one from each country.
ISO is a non-governmental
organization established in 1947. The mission of ISO is to promote the
development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view
to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to
developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological
and economic activity.
work results in international agreements which are published as International
The existence of
non-harmonized standards for similar technologies in different countries or
regions can contribute to so-called "technical barriers to trade".
Export-minded industries have long sensed the need to agree on world standards
to help rationalize the international trading process. This was the origin of
the establishment of ISO.
standardization is well-established for many technologies in such diverse fields
as information processing and communications, textiles, packaging, distribution
of goods, energy production and utilization, shipbuilding, banking and financial
services. It will continue to grow in importance for all sectors of industrial
activity for the foreseeable future.
The main reasons are:
progress in trade liberalization
Today's free-market economies increasingly encourage diverse sources of supply and provide opportunities for expanding markets. On the technology side, fair competition needs to be based on identifiable, clearly defined common references that are recognized from one country to the next, and from one region to the other. An industry-wide standard, internationally recognized, developed by consensus among trading partners, serves as the language of trade.
No industry in today's world can truly claim to be completely independent of components, products, rules of application, etc., that have been developed in other sectors. Bolts are used in aviation and for agricultural machinery; welding plays a role in mechanical and nuclear engineering, and electronic data processing has penetrated all industries. Environmentally friendly products and processes, and recyclable or biodegradable packaging are pervasive concerns.
The computer industry offers a good example of technology that needs quickly and progressively to be standardized at a global level. Full compatibility among open systems fosters healthy competition among producers, and offers real options to users since it is a powerful catalyst for innovation, improved productivity and cost-cutting.
standards for emerging technologies
Standardization programmes in completely new fields are now being developed. Such fields include advanced materials, the environment, life sciences, urbanization and construction. In the very early stages of new technology development, applications can be imagined but functional prototypes do not exist. Here, the need for standardization is in defining terminology and accumulating databases of quantitative information.
Development agencies are increasingly recognizing that a standardization infrastructure is a basic condition for the success of economic policies aimed at achieving sustainable development. Creating such an infrastructure in developing countries is essential for improving productivity, market competitiveness, and export capability.
is a condition existing within a particular industrial sector when the large
majority of products or services conform to the same standards. It results from
consensus agreements reached between all economic players in that industrial
sector - suppliers, users, and often governments. They agree on specifications
and criteria to be applied consistently in the choice and classification of
materials, the manufacture of products, and the provision of services. The aim
is to facilitate trade, exchange and technology transfer through:
product quality and reliability at a reasonable price;
health, safety and environmental protection, and reduction of waste;
compatibility and interoperability of goods and services;
for improved usability;
in the number of models, and thus reduction in costs;
distribution efficiency, and ease of maintenance.
more confidence in products and services that conform to International
Standards. Assurance of conformity can be provided by manufacturers'
declarations, or by audits carried out by independent bodies.
standards are developed according to the following principles:
The views of all interests are taken into account: manufacturers, vendors and users, consumer groups, testing laboratories, governments, engineering professions and research organizations.
Global solutions to satisfy industries and customers worldwide.
International standardization is market-driven and therefore based on voluntary involvement of all interests in the market-place.
are three main phases in the ISO standards development process.
need for a standard is usually expressed by an industry sector, which
communicates this need to a national member body. The latter proposes the new
work item to ISO as a whole. Once the need for an International Standard has
been recognized and formally agreed, the first phase involves definition of the
technical scope of the future standard. This phase is usually carried out in
working groups which comprise technical experts from countries interested in the
agreement has been reached on which technical aspects are to be covered in the
standard, a second phase is entered during which countries negotiate the
detailed specifications within the standard. This is the consensus-building
final phase comprises the formal approval of the resulting draft International
Standard (the acceptance criteria stipulate approval by two-thirds of the ISO
members that have participated actively in the standards development process,
and approval by 75 % of all members that vote), following which the agreed text
is published as an ISO International Standard.