The World Standards Cooperation (WSC) — a high-level partnership of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) — hosted a workshop on conformity assessment on December 1-2. Held under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the event took place at the UN's Palais des Nations on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and was attended by some two hundred industry representatives, government regulators, economic leaders, and other stakeholders. UN executive secretary Friis Bach and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) vice president of accreditation Lane Hallenbeck — representing ISO in his capacity as Chair of the ISO Conformity Assessment Committee (CASCO) — opened the proceedings along with IEC general secretary Frans Vreeswijk and ITU deputy director Reinhard Scholl.
With the goal of furthering understanding and providing practical insights into such issues as product safety, personnel competence, and environmental impacts, the two-day workshop included six panels and several demonstrations of tools for regulators. Mr. Hallenbeck led several of the panels, moderating discussions between the audience and presenters for topics including regulatory options, risk management, and recommended future priorities, solutions, and actions.
Other panels led by colleagues from Asia, Africa, and Europe addressed energy and sustainability issues, global conformity assessment schemes, and counterfeit products and certificates. These presentations and associated discussions delved into the disposal of hazardous substances, prevention of product dumping, and the detection and elimination of fake products, among other issues. Presentations and other reference documents were shared and are available here .
Participants noted that the workshop enhanced awareness about global conformity assessment through its focused presentations and targeted dialogue. One recurring theme was the importance and benefits of using the CASCO toolbox of standards as the bridge between defining requirements in standards and determining fulfillment of those requirements through conformity assessment. Media representatives and others in attendance new to the subject matter expressed appreciation for the information shared on different national solutions and the demonstrations of the value and benefits of conformity assessment. WSC representatives confirmed interest in building on the success of the workshop with similar events in the future.
ANSI is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Its membership is comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor organizations. The Institute represents the diverse interests of more than 125,000 companies and organizations and 3.5 million professionals worldwide.
The Institute is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and is a U.S. representative to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
The World Standards Cooperation (WSC) was established in 2001 as a high-level group focusing on the common interests of the three world-wide international standards development organizations: the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The primary goals of the WSC are to strengthen and advance the voluntary consensus-based international standards system that its members represent, and to promote and increase the worldwide visibility of international standardization and related conformity assessment matters.