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Why ISO?

About ISO

ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 161 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

Our Central Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Learn more about our structure and how we are governed.


What are standards?

International Standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. They are instrumental in facilitating international trade.

ISO has published more than 21000 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.


KEY PRINCIPLES IN STANDARD DEVELOPMENT


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • ISO standards are based on a consensus
    Developing ISO standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.