Structure and governance

ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization made up of members from the national standards bodies of 162 countries. Our members play a vital role in how we operate, meeting once a year for a General Assembly that decides our strategic objectives.

Our Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, coordinates the system and runs day-to-day operations, overseen by the Secretary General.

The General Assembly

The General Assembly is the ultimate authority for the organization. It is an annual meeting attended by our members and our Principal Officers.

The ISO Council

The ISO Council takes care of most governance issues. It meets twice a year and is made up of 20 member bodies, the ISO Officers and the Chairs of the Policy Development Committees CASCO, COPOLCO and DEVCO. Under the Council are a number of bodies that provide guidance and management on specific issues:

Membership to the Council is open to all member bodies and rotates to make sure it is representative of the member community.

Technical Management Board (TMB)

The management of the technical work is taken care of by the Technical Management Board. This body is also responsible for the technical committees that lead standard development and any strategic advisory boards created on technical matters.


ISO is a network of national standards bodies that represent ISO in their country.

There are three member categories, each enjoying different levels access and influence over the ISO system. This helps us to be inclusive while also recognizing the different needs and capacities of each member.

Read more about ISO membership.


If you have any questions about ISO members or becoming an ISO member, please contact our head of membership Pamela Tarif.

Pamela Tarif
Pamela Tarif
Head of Membership
ISO Central Secretariat
Geneva, Switzerland

Principal officers

Please note: The figures in brackets show the year at the end of which the term of office expires.

Past Principal Officers of ISO

Zhang Xiaogang
ISO President
John Walter
ISO Vice-President (policy)
Elisabeth- Stampfl-Blaha
ISO Vice-President (technical management)
Olivier Peyrat
ISO Vice-President (finance)
Kevin Mckinley
Acting ISO Secretary-General (Chief Executive Officer)
ISO Central Secretariat
Miguel Payro
ISO Treasurer
Argentina / United Kingdom


We work closely with two other international standards development organizations, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In 2001, ISO, IEC and ITU formed the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) in order to strengthen the standards systems of the three organisations. The WSC also promotes the adoption and implementation of international consensus-based standards worldwide.

In addition, we also have a close relationship with the World Trade Organization (WTO) which particularly appreciates the contribution of International Standards to reducing technical barriers to trade.

ISO also works with United Nations partners. For example, we liaise with UN specialized agencies that do technical harmonization or technical assistance, including the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In total, ISO collaborates with over 700 international, regional and national organisations. These organisations take part in the standard development process as well as sharing expertise and best practices.

How is ISO financed?

Our national members pay subscriptions that meet the operational cost of the Central Secretariat. The subscription paid by each member is in proportion to the country's Gross National Income and trade figures. Another source of revenue is the sale of standards.

However, the operations of ISO's Central Secretariat represent only about one fifth of the cost of the system's operation. Other costs are related to specific standard development projects and technical work. These costs are borne by member bodies and business organizations that allow their experts to participate and pay their travel costs.

Related Documents

The ISO Strategy outlines our priorities for the next five years. It provides guidance and strategic direction, helping us to respond to a future where constant change will require us to continually improve the ISO system.

ISO Statutes

Trilingual document in English, French and Russian, of the complete text of ISO Statutes.

ISO Action Plan 2011-2015

ISO's Action Plan maps out how ISO aims to contribute to improving developing countries' economic growth and access to world markets and helping to achieve sustainable development.