International Standards (IS)
A standard is a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.
An International Standard is a standard adopted by an international standards organization and made available to the public. The definition given in all IEC standards reads: "A normative document, developed according to consensus procedures, which has been approved by the IEC National Committee members of the responsible committee in accordance with Part 1 of the ISO/IEC Directives."
The IEC is one of the bodies recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and entrusted by it for monitoring the national and regional organizations agreeing to use the IEC's international standards as the basis for national or regional standards as part of the WTO's Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.
The word "consensus" is important since it represents a common viewpoint of those parties concerned with its provisions, namely producers, users, consumers and general interest groups. IEC's International Standards are reached by international consensus among the IEC's members (National Committees). Any member of the IEC may participate in the preparatory work of an International Standard, and any international, governmental and non-governmental organization liaising with the IEC also participates in this preparation.
Another vital feature of a truly international standard is the fact that it can be submitted to public enquiry in any of the IEC NCs' countries. Thus, through the democratic tools of consensus and public enquiry, any interested party may speak up and have their say in the development and publication of an international standard.
An International Standard is approved if:
- a) a two-thirds majority of the votes cast by the P-members of the technical committee or sub-committee are in favour, and
- b) not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative.
Adoption of IEC standards by any country, whether it is a member of the Commission or not, is entirely voluntary.