ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

ISO and United Nations Group Partner on International Social Responsibility Standard

New York, Nov 27, 2006

As the world moves progressively toward an ever more globalized economy, consumers have become increasingly conscious of the circumstances and practices under which their goods and services are produced. Environmentally harmful manufacturing, child labor, and unsafe working conditions are among the myriad issues instilled into the public consciousness through a steady flow of media reports and exposés.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the United Nations Global Compact Office (UNGCO) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance cooperation on an International Standard that will guide social responsibility (SR) of public- and private- sector organizations worldwide. Specifically, ISO and UNGCO will work to maintain consistency between ISO 26000 and UN Global Compact’s ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.

“This collaboration marks a major step forward for coherence in the field of social responsibility and lays a key foundation for the development and future success of the SR standard itself,” UN Global Compact Office executive director Georg Kell said.

Targeted for publication in early 2009, ISO 26000 is intended to usher companies, government agencies, and other organizations toward a more sustainable global economy. The standard seeks to establish common guidance on social responsibility concepts, definitions and methods of evaluation for voluntary use by organizations in both developed and developing areas of the world.

ISO 26000 will complement existing public- and private- sector SR initiatives, including the inter-governmental agreements—the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work—developed respectively by the UN and its constituent organization the International Labour Organization (ILO). ISO established a separate but similar MOU with the ILO in 2005 to ensure consistency with ILO labor standards.

ISO 26000 is being developed by the ISO working group on social responsibility, a group comprised of industry, government, labor, consumers, non-governmental organizations and others from sixty-one ISO member countries. In addition, ISO has taken action to maintain a geographical and gender-based balance of participants.

Recognizing the particular challenges that some developing countries may face—including limited government infrastructure for developing and implementing SR regulations and education services—ISO has put into place a number of programs to encourage the involvement of developing countries in the development of ISO 26000. For example, the ISO working group on SR has instituted a “twinning system,” in which a developing ISO country member is paired with a developed country member to foster exchange among participants. The ISO Committee on Developing Country Matters has also held several regional workshops in developing areas to enhance understanding of the ISO SR process, encourage their involvement, and identify their specific needs.

Call to Action
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will send a U.S. delegation to the upcoming meeting of the ISO working group on social responsibility, which will be held January 27 – February 2, 2007, in Sydney, Australia. The U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ISO’s SR activity is currently developing positions to prepare the ANSI experts to this meeting. Any U.S. parties interested in participating in the U.S.TAG should contact Jason Knopes at the American Society for Quality (

Additional information on ISO 26000 and ISO’s SR initiative is available at

Company Member Online Discussion Board