OverviewISO, the International Organization for Standardization, is an independent, non-governmental organization, the members of which are the standards organizations of the 163 member countries. It is the world's largest developer of voluntary international standards and facilitates world trade by providing common standards between nations. Over twenty thousand standards have been set covering everything from manufactured products and technology to food safety, agriculture and healthcare.Use of the standards aids in the creation of products and services that are safe, reliable and of good quality. The standards help businesses increase productivity while minimizing errors and waste. By enabling products from different markets to be directly compared, they facilitate companies in entering new markets and assist in the development of global trade on a fair basis. The standards also serve to safeguard consumers and the end-users of products and services, ensuring that certified products conform to the minimum standards set internationally.
Name and abbreviations
The three official languages of the ISO are English, French, and Russian. The name of the organization in French is Organisation internationale de normalisation, and in Russian, Международная организация по стандартизации. ISO is not an acronym. The organization adopted ISO as its abbreviated name in reference to the Greek word isos (ἴσος, meaning equal),as its name in the three official languages would have different acronyms. During the founding meetings of the new organization, the Greek word explanation was not invoked, so this meaning may have been made public later.
ISO gives this explanation of the name "Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French), 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, the short form of our name is always ISO."
Both the name ISO and the ISO logo are registered trademarks, and their use is restricted.
Plaque marking the building in Prague where the ISO's predecessor, the ISA, was founded.
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 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.