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.

We have a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. Operations at the Central Secretariat are directed by the Secretary General.

The General Assembly

The General Assembly is the ultimate authority for our work. This annual meeting is attended by our members and our Principal Officers, including the President, the Vice-President (policy), the Vice President (technical management), the Vice-President (finance), the Treasurer and the Secretary General.

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 Policy Development Committees (CASCO, COPOLCO, DEVCO). Membership to the Council is open to all member bodies and rotates to make sure it is representative of the member community.

Under the Council are a number of bodies that provide guidance and management on specific issues.

The President’s Committee shall advise Council and oversee the implementation of the decisions taken by the Council and the General Assembly.
- provides guidance on conformity assessments
COPOLCO - provides guidance on consumer issues
DEVCO - provides guidance on matters related to developing countries
Council Standing Committees - advise on financial and strategic matters
Ad hoc Advisory Committees - can be established to advance the goals and strategic objectives of the organization

Technical Management Board

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 Central Secretariat

The General Assembly and the Council map out ISO’s strategic direction. However, day to day operations are run by the Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. The Central Secretariat is under the direction of the Secretary General, who is also one of our Principal Officers.

Click on the image below to enlarge the diagram of ISO's structure


We are a network of national standards bodies. These national standards bodies make up the ISO membership and they represent ISO in their country.

There are three member categories. Each enjoys a different level of access and influence over the ISO system. This helps us to be inclusive while also recognizing the different needs and capacity of each national standards body. Countries with limited resources or without a fully developed national standards system can still observe and keep up to date with international standardization in ISO.

Read more about how ISO supports developing countries in international standardization work.

Full members (or member bodies) influence ISO standards development and strategy by participating and voting in ISO technical and policy meetings. Full members sell and adopt ISO International Standards nationally.

Correspondent members observe the development of ISO standards and strategy by attending ISO technical and policy meetings as observers. Correspondent members can sell and adopt ISO International Standards nationally.

Subscriber members keep up to date on ISO’s work but cannot participate in it. They do not sell or adopt ISO International Standards nationally.


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

ISO Strategic Plan 2011-2015

The route map to the global vision for ISO in 2015: to be the world's leading provider of high quality, globally relevant International Standards through its members and stakeholders.

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.