Role of ISO

International Organization For Standardization:

ISO is a global network that recognizes which international standard will be required by business, society, government, develops them and adopts them by the use of transparent procedure in order to be implemented worldwide. It is a federation of national standard bodies amongst various countries, one per country.

International Standards

According to ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004 Standardization and related activities – General vocabulary, standard is a document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that provides for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

  • ISO Standards help to make life simpler and to increase the reliability and the effectiveness of many goods and services we use;
  • Standards are created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service;
  • Standards are designed for voluntary use and do not impose any regulations. However, laws and regulations may refer to certain standards and make compliance with them compulsory;
  • “Voluntary Standards” become mandatory only when they are incorporated into contracts; or they are referenced or adopted by government agencies as part of a regulation to protect public health, safety, and the environment;
  • The difference between a standard and a technical regulation lies in compliance. While conformity with standards is voluntary, technical regulations are by nature mandatory.

Conformity Assessment

The process of demonstrating the essential features about a product or services, which meet the requirement of standards, regulations and other specification, is called conformity assessment. A variety of PROCESSES involved in verifying that goods/services meet acceptable voluntary or mandatory standards such as Testing , Surveillance, Inspection, Assessment, Auditing, Certification and Registration.

Objectives of Conformity Assessment are to:

  1. Ensure the conformance of products/services with relevant standards (ISO, IEC/BIS etc);
  2. Encourage international trade (tries to check trade malpractices);
  3. Prevent sale of substandard/unsafe product;
  4. Prevent importation of substandard products;
  5. Save lives and property;
  6. Prevent pollution of air and water;
  7. Conserve hard-earned foreign exchange.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) states “ISO itself has no authority to control conformity assessment activities, whether these are business activities by its members or by other organizations”. Further, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) states that private sector organizations may perform conformity assessment services as a commercial activity or regulatory bodies under a mandate may perform these services when ISO standards have been incorporated into public legislation, the aim of which is to create confidence among suppliers and their clients.


Webster defines accreditation as “to give trust or confidence to: to vouch for; to recommend; to furnish with credentials, as an envoy or ambassador”.

According to ISO/IEC 17011:2004 Accreditation means: Third–party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific assessment tasks.

It is a formal recognition by an independent body, generally known as an accreditation body, certifies Conformity Assessment Body to be capable and competent. Accreditation is not obligatory but it adds another level of confidence, as ‘accredited’ means the Conformity Assessment Body has been independently checked to make sure it operates according to international standards.

As per International Organization For Standardization (ISO) Accreditation is not compulsory, and non-accreditation does not necessarily mean it is not reputable, but it does provide independent confirmation of competence.

ABCAB accreditation Board for Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) normallyt called CB or Certifying Body. ABCAB conveys formal demonstration to carry out specific certification, inspection, registration verification/validation, assessment, testing and calibration. This independent assessment and recognition of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) may allow the accredited organizations tests, inspection reports and certificates to be recognized as equivalent to organizations in other countries.

Benefits of Accreditation:

  1. Accreditation is a trade support tool for recognition of a level of organizational competence as per the requirements of internationally agreed standards and other benchmarks that is comparable to other conformity assessment bodies accredited by the same accrediting body.
  2. Accreditation of a conformity assessment body signifies that its systems and processes are under regular oversight to be competent, effective, efficient, and accountable, improvement oriented and has adequate resources while providing services.
  3. Accredited service quality implies meeting or exceeding the international standards.

The Story of ISO:

The ISO story began in 1946 when delegates from 25 countries met at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London and decided to create a new international organization ‘to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards’.On 23 February 1947 the new organization, ISO, officially began operations.

  1. Since then,we have published over 21000  International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing.
  2. Today we have members from 161 countries and 3 368 technical bodies to take care of standard development. More than 150 people work full time for ISO’s Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

To find out more about the history of ISO, see our timeline.

It’s all in the name

Because ‘International Organization for Standardization’ would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), our founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, we are always ISO.

How does ISO develop standards?

A panel of experts, within a technical committee, develops an ISO standard. Once the need for a standard has been established, these experts meet to discuss and negotiate a draft standard. As soon as a draft has been developed it is shared with ISO’s members who are asked to comment and vote on it. If a consensus is reached the draft becomes an ISO standard, if not it goes back to the technical committee for further edits.

Key principles in standard development

  1. ISO standards respond to a need in the market: ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard, but responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member who then contacts ISO. Contact details for national members can be found in the list of members.
  2. ISO standards are based on global expert opinion: ISO standards are developed by groups of experts from all over the world, that are part of larger groups called technical committees. These experts negotiate all aspects of the standard, including its scope, key definitions and content. Details can be found in the list of technical committees.
  3. ISO standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process: The technical committees are made up of experts from the relevant industry, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government. Read more about who develops ISO standards.
  4. ISO standards are based on a consensus: Developing ISO standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.