Developing International Standards
How is an ISO Standard developed?
International standardization work begins with a standardization proposal that may be submitted by either a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) such as DIN, the secretariat of an ISO Technical Committee (TC) or Subcommittee (SC), an international organization that is a liaison member, the ISO Technical Management Board (TMB), the ISO Secretary-General, or the IEC General Secretary.
If a simple majority of national standards organizations with an interest in the subject matter (i.e. the participating or “P-“ Members) are in favour of the proposal, and at least five P-members agree to actively participate, it is included in the programme of work of the TC or SC into whose domain the subject falls, or else a new TC is set up.
One of the ISO or IEC members is responsible for running the secretariat. At present DIN holds approximately 17 % of all ISO secretariats.
Once the responsible working group (WG) of the TC or SC agrees on a committee draft (CD), the TC or SC is entitled to comment on it within a three-month period. If these agree to submit a proposal for public discussion, ISO or IEC begins the enquiry procedure by circulating a draft International Standard in English and French. The ISO or IEC members then have five months to submit their national vote and comments.
In Germany, drafts of DIN ISO Standards or DIN IEC Standards (and, where there is parallel voting in accordance with the Vienna Agreement the draft of a DIN EN ISO Standard or parallel voting in accordance with the Dresden Agreement the draft of an DIN EN ISO Standard) are published as German-language versions on which anyone may comment within a two-month period (Draft Standards can be viewed on DIN's German-language Draft Standards Portal). The national mirror committee discusses all comments received and submits the consolidated national viewpoint to ISO.
Approval of an ISO or IEC draft requires a two-thirds majority of P-members of the overseeing TC or SC and, at the same time, a three-quarters majority of all votes cast (i.e. including those of ISO or IEC members that have not participated in the TC or SC).
On the basis of the comments, the responsible working group formulates a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) in English and French. The ISO or IEC members then decide whether to accept this as an International Standard in a final vote over a two-month period. In this case the draft must either be approved or, if not, then reasons for the negative vote must be given. Acceptance of the Final Draft is dependent on its receiving a two-thirds majority of all P-Members in the TC who have cast their vote, and not more than a quarter of all votes may be against the draft.
If the content of the FDIS differs substantially from that of the DIS, in exceptional cases a second DIS is published and re-submitted to public enquiry.
If the outcome of voting is positive, the International Standard is published in English and French. There is no obligation on the part of ISO or IEC members to adopt International Standards as national standards. In other words, they are free to adopt them unchanged, modify them, or not adopt them at all - unless the standard has been developed in accordance with the Vienna or Dresden Agreement and has gone through parallel balloting on the strength of which it has been endorsed as both an International and European Standard, in which case the International Standard would also have the status of a European Standard and would have to be adopted unchanged as a national standard by those ISO or IEC members that are also members of CEN/CENELEC/ETSI, with any deviating national standards being withdrawn.
The ISO/IEC Directives foresee a period of 36 months between the start of work on a standard and its publication.
There are other international standardization deliverables that differ from International Standards in the way they are developed, the time frame for their development, and the degree to which they are binding:
International Technical Specification (ISO/TS)
International Technical Report (ISO/TR)
Publicly Available Specification (PAS)
International Workshop Agreement (IWA)