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Public Participation Tops ISO Consumer Policy Committee Deliberations


New York, Jun 15, 2004

How are consumers participating in the decision-making processes of international standardizing bodies and in public policy activities? What benchmarks exist for public participation in terms of standards and other best practices at the national and international level? Would an international process standard on consumer and public interest participation be desirable? These questions were among those raised at a May 17 workshop of the Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The workshop, "Regulation, Co-regulation, Self-regulation—Who’s at Risk? Legislation and standards: partners in consumer protection," explored mechanisms by which voluntary standards interact with regulatory regimes to ensure that products and services meet consumers’ expectations for safety, performance, fitness for purpose, pricing, redress and other criteria. The workshop recommendations were addressed at the May 18-19 COPOLCO plenary meeting. The events were hosted by the Czech Standards Institute, in Prague, Czech Republic.

Noting calls for greater stakeholder participation during the recent consultation to revise the ISO Horizon 2010 strategy document, COPOLCO agreed to form an electronic working group to examine current practices and limitations of consumer representation. The group will collect information from members on existing standards or guidance on public participation and will consider benchmarking of consumer representation in ISO.

In conjunction with this effort, COPOLCO also agreed to establish liaison with the Consumers International (CI) group on Global Governance. Representatives from the global consumer organization CI provided COPOLCO with an overview of their research project which is exploring the degree to which consumers participate in and influence the work of the ISO, the Codex Alimentarius and the World Trade Organization. The ultimate aim is to improve consumer involvement in the decision-making processes of these organizations.

Attending the COPOLCO meetings from ANSI were: Barbara Gregg of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition and chair of ANSI’s Consumer Interest Forum (CIF), Steve Cole of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Linda Golodner of the National Consumers League, and Jim McCabe of ANSI staff.

For more information about COPOLCO or the CIF, contact Mr. McCabe, ANSI director of consumer relations and public policy (jmccabe@ansi.org; 212-642-8921).

Download a report and resolutions from the COPOLCO meeting here.

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