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It's crystal clear. No certification to ISO 26000 guidance standard on social responsibility

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ISO, developer of the newly published ISO 26000 standard giving guidance on social responsibility, is reinforcing the point that ISO 26000 is not able to be and may not be used for certification. ISO indicates that it will take action against claims of certification to the standard.

ISO’s portfolio of 18 500 standards include a number of management system standards such as the well-known ISO 9001 for quality management, which has been specifically developed and can be used for certification. This means that a certification body audits an organization’s management system and issues a certificate that it conforms to the requirements of the standard

However, ISO 26000 is not a management system standard and specifically does not contain requirements against which an organization or its management system could be audited and certified. ISO 26000 provides guidance on what social responsibility is and how organizations can operate in a socially responsible manner.

Further, the scope of ISO 26000 makes it very clear that it is not to be used for certification, stating: “This international standard is not a management system standard.  It is not intended or appropriate for certification purposes or regulatory or contractual use. Any offer to certify, or claims to be certified to ISO 26000 would be a misrepresentation of the intent and purpose and a misuse of this international standard. As this international standard does not contain requirements, any such certification would not be a demonstration of conformity with this international standard.”

ISO reinforces the above position by declaring:

  • ISO 26000 has the purpose of globally enhancing social responsibility, sustainability and ethical behaviour in all kinds of organizations
  • 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
  • ISO members will report any organizations providing certification to ISO 26000 to the ISO Central Secretariat
  • ISO shall communicate this to its members who will be requested to communicate within their own countries to regulators, stakeholders and industry.

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 conformity assessment activities, including certification.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has members who “accredit” (approve) certification bodies as competent to carry out their certifications. A recent meeting of the IAF passed the following resolution:

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 1November 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.