International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

What is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international nongovernmental organization made up of national standards bodies; it develops and publishes a wide range of proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards and is comprised of representatives from various national standards organizations.

The organization’s abbreviated name—ISO—is not an acronym; it derives from the ancient Greek word ísos, meaning equal or equivalent. Because the organization would have different acronyms in different languages, the founders of the organization decided to call it the short form ISO.

History and Sturcture of the ISO

The International Organization for Standardization was founded in 1947 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization began in the 1920s as the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA). After being suspended during World War II, the United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee (UNSCC) proposed a new global standards body, and the International Organization for Standardization was formed. The ISO works in 165 countries. Members of the organization are the foremost standards organizations in their countries; there is only one member per country. While individuals and companies cannot become members of ISO, there are various ways that industry experts can collaborate with the ISO.

Members of ISO meet annually at a General Assembly to discuss the strategic objectives of the organization. In addition, there is a 20-person council with rotating membership that provides guidance and governance for the organization.

Members of the ISO

ISO has 165 national members.

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 the work of ISO, 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.

Participating members are called “P” members, as opposed to observing members, who are called “O” members.

What are ISO International Standards?

International standards are the main products of ISO. It also publishes technical reports, technical specifications, publicly available specifications, technical corrigenda, and guides.

The Naming of International standards

These are designated using the format ISO[/IEC] [/ASTM] [IS] nnnnn[-p]:[yyyy] Title, where nnnnn is the number of the standard, p is an optional part number, yyyy is the year published, and Title describes the subject. IEC for International Electrotechnical Commission is included if the standard results from the work of ISO/IEC JTC1 (the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee). ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) is used for standards developed in cooperation with ASTM International. yyyy and IS are not used for an incomplete or unpublished standard and, under some circumstances, may be left off the title of a published work.

ISO 9000

The best-known ISO standards are the ISO 9000 family of standards for quality management and assurance. ISO 9001:2008 is known as a generic standard, meaning it applies to all sizes and types of business. So, a tool-and-die shop may be expected by its larger customers to conform to ISO 9001:2008, which ensures that the customer conforms as well. Niche companies, such as medical device manufacturers, must conform to ISO 9000 standards specific to their industries.

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