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ISO Launches Development of Social Responsibility Standard

 
Experts from Business, Government Civil Society and Academe Lay Out Agenda for SR Standard.

 

Salvador, Brazil - The first meeting of the International Working Group on the ISO Social Responsibility Standard took place March 7-11 in Salvador, Brazil. The meeting attracted more than 350 people from more than 40 countries and included such international organizations as the UN Global Compact, UNIDO, ILO, UNCTAD, etc.

Earlier this year the national standards institutes that make up ISO’s membership approved the development of a standard on social responsibility that will provide guidance to organizations on social responsibility. According to Vice Chair Catarina Munck af Rosenschöld, the standard will endeavour “to develop guiding principles with global relevance that will be useful to organizations worldwide in establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving the way they address social responsibility”.

The standard will be applicable to all types of organizations, including business, NGOs, government, etc.  It will provide guidance on how to operationalize social responsibility and, as such, will not be a standard for certification purposes.

The first meeting in Salvador, Brazil focused on defining the structure and terms of reference of the international working group and the design of the SR guideline standard. Stakeholder representative from industry, government, consumers, labour, and NGOs among others are represented in the working group in an unprecedented attempt by ISO to achieve ‘balance’ in this multi-stakeholder process and gather input from a diversity of SR stakeholders. Efforts are also underway within ISO to attempt to ensure representation from developing countries to participate in on-going work in developing the standard.   

According to InterPraxis Director and International Working Group member, David Simpson, “the challenge for ISO is to design a meaningful standard for organizations which will supplement existing tools and build a bridge between national legislation and international norms on the one hand and recognized voluntary initiatives on social responsibility on the other”. 

 “If the ISO standard is to have any utility, credibility or legitimacy,” says Simpson, “it must be based on internationally recognized norms in the fields of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption.” The objective is laudable but a lot of work remains ahead. ISO expects that developing the standard will take three years with publication of the standard scheduled for 2008.

 

For more information please visit www.iso.org/iso/en/info/Conferences/SRConference/home.htm

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