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Standards Resources: International Standardization Organizations

A guide to Standards, their value, and how to locate them.

International Standardization Organizations

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 

Founded in 1946, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 164 national standards bodies, broken down into three levels:

  • 121 member bodies (fully participating members),
  • 39 correspondent members, and
  • 4 subscriber members.

Technical experts from around the world who work in a particular field are brought together to develop international standards through the (more than 250) ISO technical committees. Many of these committees cooperate with industry- and geography-specific organizations to create, review and update (as necessary) the thousands of standards under the ISO collective umbrella.

Some of the other organizations that cooperate with the ISO are:

  • CIE (International Commission on Illumination): an organization devoted to international cooperation on matters relating to the science and art of Iighting.
  • IIW (International Institute of Welding): the technical field of the IIW encompasses the joining, cutting and surface treatment of metallic and non-metallic materials.
  • ISO/CASCO (Committee on conformity assessment): a committee set up to allow members to study various means of assessing the conformity of products, processes, services and management systems to appropriate standards or other technical specifications.
  • ISO/COPOLCO (Committee on consumer policy): a committee set up to allow members to study means of helping consumers to benefit from standardization, and means of improving consumer participation in national and international standardization.
  • ISO/REMCO (Committee on reference materials): a committee set up to establish concepts, terms and definitions related to reference materials.
  • ISO/TMBG (Technical Management Board - groups): the governance body responsible for the general management of the technical committee structure within ISO.
  • IULTCS (International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies): an organization that acts as the international body responsible for the development of standards for test methods for leather (other than made-up articles).

For a good explanation of the ISO and how "Great things happen when the world agrees" see this short brochure.


The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC; in French: Commission électrotechnique internationale)

Founded in 1906, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a not-for-profit, quasi-governmental organization, responsible for consensus-based international standards and conformity assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. As with the ISO, the standards work of the Commission is carried out through technical committees and subcommittees, created and supervised by the Standardisation Management Board. The 88 National Committees, one for each member country (62 full members and 26 associate members) represent over 97% of the world's population. They serve world markets and society by promoting world trade and economic growth and encouraging the development of products, systems and services that are safe, efficient and environmentally friendly.


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Founded in 1865 to facilitate international connectivity in communications networks, the International Telecommunication Union (originally the International Telegraph Union), as the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, now allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strives to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide. They are committed to connecting all the world's people – wherever they live and whatever their means.

The ITU Publications on Standardization are located here. 


Another international organization not often associated with standardization and the considerations needed for their implementation is the World Trade Organization (WTO). Their Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement deals with the standards and regulations implemented by nations to achieve legitimate policy objectives, such as the protection of human health or safety, or the protection of the environment. The TBT Agreement strongly encourages the 164 members of the WTO to base their measures on international standards as a means to facilitate trade by providing a predictable trading environment. Here is a link to a short brochure published by the WTO on the TBT Agreement.

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