Social responsibility Standard no certification

Issue 23 – December 2010

The recently published Standard, Guidance on social responsibility ISO 26000:2010, provides guidance on what social responsibility is and how organisations can operate in a socially responsible manner. ISO and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) have issued a joint statement reinforcing that ISO 26000 is not able to be and may not be used for certification. Further, the two organisations indicate that they will take action against claims of certification to the Standard.

AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements has been specifically developed and can be used for certification. However, ISO 26000 is not a management system Standard and specifically does not contain requirements against which an organisation or its management system could be audited and certified.

In a joint statement, ISO and the IAF reinforce the above position by declaring:

  • ISO 26000 has the purpose of globally enhancing social responsibility, sustainability, and ethical behaviour in all kinds of organisations
  • there will be no accredited certification to ISO 26000 as this is contrary to the intent and spirit of the Standard
  • any claims of certification to ISO 26000 are misleading and are not a demonstration of conformity to ISO 26000
  • IAF and ISO members will report any organisations providing certification to ISO 26000 to the ISO Central Secretariat
  • IAF and ISO shall communicate this to their members who will be requested to communicate within their own countries to regulators, stakeholders, and industry.

ISO and the IAF further declare that they have a responsibility to ensure that accredited certification is performed in a responsible manner and that Standards are not used for purposes for which they have not been intended. The IAF passed a resolution in November 2010 at its General Assembly in Shanghai, China, stating:

IAF Resolution 2010–10 – (Agenda Item 7) IAF/ISO Joint Communiqué on Certification to ISO 26000

The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the Technical Committee, resolved that there will not be any accredited certification to ISO 26000 (publication date 1 November 2010).

ISO 26000 explicitly states that it is not intended or appropriate for certification, and any certification would be a misuse of the standard.

Therefore, Certification Bodies are strongly urged not to promote or provide certification to ISO 26000 and Accreditation Bodies and Certification Bodies are requested to report any misuse or need for certification, to the ISO Central Secretariat.

ISO develops Standards but does not carry out auditing and certification to its Standards, nor accreditation of the certification bodies that operate independently of ISO. ISO does not control the activities of either accreditation bodies or certification bodies and the ISO logo does not appear on certificates of conformity to ISO Standards. However, ISO develops Standards to encourage good practice worldwide in accreditation and certification. In this context, ISO cooperates with a number of organisations, in particular the IAF. The IAF's national accreditation body members carry out surveillance of accredited certification bodies to ensure they comply with international Standards when issuing certificates.

The IAF member code of conduct states, 'The IAF, through its members, has responsibility for the integrity of accredited certification and inspection activities. As such, we (IAF and its members) are committed to maintaining the trust and respect of our clients and the public at large through unquestionable integrity, honesty, and ethical business conduct. IAF members have a responsibility to uphold this dedication to corporate ethics.'

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