ISO – the International Organization for Standardization – is the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards, and began operation in 1947.

It is a network of the national standards institutes of some 159 countries, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland that coordinates the system.
ISO standards are voluntary. As a non-governmental organization, ISO does not regulate or legislate. However, countries may decide to adopt ISO standards as regulations or refer to them in legislation. In addition, ISO standards may become a market requirement.

ISO has more than 18,000 International Standards in its current portfolio and its work programme ranges from traditional activities such as agriculture, through to engineering, and standards for good practice and for services.

The organization launches the development of new standards in response to the sectors that express a clearly established need for them.
The costs of developing standards are mainly borne by the ISO members that manage the specific standards development projects and the business organizations that provide experts.


An average of eight ISO technical meetings takes place every working day somewhere in the world. The time that it takes to develop and publish an ISO standard has fallen from an average of 4.2 years in 2001 to 2.7 years in 2009.

For more information on the ISO, see: