Social responsibility Working Group meets in Canada

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Social Responsibility Working Group's (SR WG) group's seventh plenary meeting was held in Quebec, Canada, in May 2009. The meeting addressed issues stemming from the more than 3000 comments submitted in a successful vote on the committee draft of the Standard taken before the meeting.

The SR WG was established in September 2004. ISO issued a new work item proposal in October 2004 for the development of a social responsibility Standard, which was approved in January 2005 with a broad majority in favour of starting the development of the Standard.

The Working Group included representatives from each participating country from six stakeholder groups (industry, government, consumers, labour organisations, non-government organisations, and research bodies).

A committee draft was released for comment in late 2008 and closed in March 2009. Over 3000 comments were received on the draft and the results of the voting meant that it has automatically been accepted as a draft international Standard.

The meeting in Quebec was convened to review these comments with a general aim of increasing thelevel of consensus on the document, by addressing comments. During the meeting, there was significant debate on important issues raised in the circulation of the draft, including:

  • the relationship of the Standard with the World Trade Organisation's Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement
  • the general intent of the Standard that it is not to be used for certification purposes.

It is likely that outstanding concerns will be resubmitted at the next stage in the development process.

New Zealand changed its participation status from 'Participant' to 'Observer' in early 2009, following an absence of stakeholders willing to commit resources to run a national mirror group. As an Observer, New Zealand will not be voting on the Standard. The next meeting will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the first half of 2010. The publication of ISO 26000 is targeted for September 2010.

Published in international.