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IEC National Committees Gather for 100th Anniversary General Meeting

New York, Oct 26, 2006

More than 1,400 delegates from sixty-two national committees recently gathered for the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) centennial anniversary General Meeting in Berlin, Germany. The United States National Committee (USNC) to the IEC sent a delegation of more than 145 representatives, forming one of the largest contingents in attendance.

The week-long meeting included a special centennial celebration showcasing the ways in which IEC standards have, over the past century, helped to advance electrical, electronic and related technologies, drive the global trading system, and improve quality of life world-wide.

United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, applauded IEC’s contributions to humanity in a congratulatory letter: “From mobile phones to medical equipment, from transport to television and the latest information technologies, the IEC's efforts to forge standards provide some of the very building blocks of sustainable human development.”

Jiang Zemin, former President of the People’s Republic of China and past president of the Chinese National Committee to the IEC, also offered a message of praise, highlighting the important role the IEC has played in helping to advance Chinese industry. Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization joined the celebration via live satellite as a featured guest of honor.

Expanded Participation
Nigeria and Sri Lanka were added to the list of associate national committee members, bringing IEC’s membership to 51 full members, 16 associate members, and 70 affiliate members. As part of an initiative to enable the participation of all interested economies in IEC activities, IEC president Renzo Tani announced a decision to lower member dues for countries with smaller economies, beginning in 2007.

In order to meet the demands for speeding new and rapidly emerging technologies to market, Tani encouraged broader participation and cooperation among IEC national committees and with other groups. According to Tani, the IEC will develop proposals for a ‘third leg' for the IEC, separate from its existing standards development and conformity assessment structures. The aim of this initiative is to offer cost-effective services and facilities to consortia and other fora that will allow them to develop limited-consensus documents to address time-sensitive issues that require an immediate response to standardization needs. Where appropriate, the limited-consensus documents would be submitted to the IEC to undergo the full-consensus process.

Looking Forward
As the IEC reflected on its past achievements, the week’s meetings and activities were forward-looking in action. Jacques Régis, former president of the Canadian power transmission provider Hydro-Québec TransEnergie, was elected president-elect of the IEC and will begin a one-year term on January 1, 2007, followed by a full three-year term as president in 2008.

The IEC Standards Management Board (SMB) also took action relative to IEC involvement in two rapidly emerging fields of technology. Kent Whitfield, manager of research and development at Underwriters Laboratories, was appointed chairman of the recently formed IEC technical committee (TC) 113, Nanotechnology standardization for electrical and electronics products and systems. [See related article: NEMA to Coordinate Activities of IEC Committee on Nanotechnology]. The SMB also asked TC 88, Wind turbines, to explore ocean energy as a potential area of standardization.

Future Meetings
The next IEC General Meeting will be held October 22 – 26, 2007, in Paris, France. The USNC plans to host the 2010 IEC General Meeting in Seattle, Washington. For additional information and sponsorship opportunities, please click here.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative