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ISO Social Responsibility Working Group Makes Strides at Seventh Plenary

New York, Jun 11, 2009

The International Organization for Standardization Working Group (WG) on Social Responsibility (ISO SR) held its seventh plenary meeting last month in Quebec City to continue development of ISO 26000, Social Responsibility.

What is ISO 26000?

ISO 26000, Social Responsibility, is intended to assist in ushering companies, government agencies, and other organizations toward a more sustainable global economy by establishing common guidance on social responsibility concepts, definitions, and methods of evaluation. It is also intended for use by organizations in both developed and developing areas of the world.

For more information, see these related ANSI news items:

Over 300 experts from 60 countries and 20 liaison organizations gathered for the May 18–22 meeting to address the more than 3,000 comments received from a positive vote on the Committee Draft (CD). Consensus among attendees allowed further progress on the document, particularly in relation to complex issues such as barriers to trade, human rights, and user friendliness. The document is expected to move to Draft International Standard (DIS) status by October 2009.

ISO/CD 26000 was issued in mid-December for the first round of national consensus position and comment development. As the U.S. member body to ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) invited all interested U.S. parties to obtain and review the draft standard and to develop input for consideration. [see sidebar]

The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO SR, administered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), met in February and achieved consensus across all TAG stakeholders on a negative voting position with comments. However, more than two-thirds of the ISO national standards body votes were in favor of moving the document to the DIS phase, which is a numerical indication in the ISO Directives for consensus acceptance of a CD.

During the Quebec City meeting, attendees worked to address all comments received, as required under the ISO Directives, and improve the consensus on the draft.

“This was an outstanding meeting which included some passionate debates,” said Jorge E.R. Cajazeira, chair of the ISO SR WG. “Nevertheless, the sense of justice and the fairness has never been closer and has allowed us to move the draft ISO 26000 to another crucial step in its path to publication.”

Staffan Söderberg, WG vice chair, added: “All in all, we worked approximately 7,000 man-hours during the week, and it is small miracle to see 305 committed SR experts reach consensus on complex issues. We have really been able to enhance agreement on this draft guidance standard on social responsibility, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to Dorothy Bowers, head of the U.S. delegation to Quebec City, “Negotiations during the week resolved the most pressing of the U.S. concerns. We expect they will be addressed satisfactorily in the post-Quebec editing of the document.”

The next meeting of the ISO SR WG will be held in Copenhagen in the first half of 2010. ISO 26000 is targeted for publication in September 2010.

For more information, see the related ISO news item.

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