Consumers and Standards:
Partnership for a Better World

5. Glossary of terms and abbreviations


Adoption (of an International Standard as a regional or national standard): publication of a national or regional normative document based on a relevant International Standard, or endorsement of an International Standard as having the same status as a national normative document, with any deviations from the International Standard identified (synonymous with "taking over": see ISO/IEC Guide 21-1:2005, definition 3.6, and ISO/IEC Guide 2: 2004, definition 10.1).

Certification: third-party attestation (i.e. issue of a statement) that specified requirements related to products, processes, systems or persons have been fulfilled (adapted from ISO/IEC 17000, 2004, Definitions 5.2 and 5.5).

Consumer: an individual member of the general public, purchasing or using property, products or services for private purposes (COPOLCO 2011).

Consumer representative: designated representative of a consumer organization.

Consumer organization: an independent organization which is

  • advocating the interests of consumers before other organizations and governments
  • not for profit in character
  • not involved in the advancement of commercial interests although it may engage in trading activities related to the provision of consumer information and to promoting its own work
  • not affiliated with any political party


  • an organization or agency that is active in consumer affairs. Such an organization or agency may for example specialize in one particular consumer issue such as standards, law or consumer protection.

Conformity assessment: demonstration that specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person or body are fulfilled (See ISO/IEC 17000, 2004, Definition 2.1).

Ergonomics: the application of scientific information concerning humans, such as behavioural and biological information, to the design of objects, systems and environment to ensure their safe, efficient and convenient use by people (adapted from the definition used by the Ergonomics Society (British Society) Also see definitions in ISO/IEC Guide 71 and ISO 6385).

Harmonized standards: standards on the same subject approved by different standardizing bodies that establish interchangeability of products, processes and services, or mutual understanding of test results or information provided according to these standards. (see ISO/IEC Guide 2, 2004, Definition 6.1).

NOTE: In the European context, "Harmonized standards" are European standards, developed and adopted by one or more of the European standards organizations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI), following a standardization mandate (or instruction) from the European Commission. These harmonized standards often provide manufacturers with the means to conform to the mandatory requirements of European laws (known as "directives").

In North America this refers to standards between countries that are technically harmonized through a process involving the Standards Development Organizations in Canada, the United States and Mexico, or Canada and the United States. The harmonization is administered through an SDO to SDO harmonization process agreement.

Harmonized technical regulations: Technical regulations on the same subject approved by different authorities that establish interchangeability of products, process and services, or mutual understanding of test results of information provided according to these technical regulations. (see ISO/IEC Guide 2, 2004, Clause 6, note).

Member body: a national body most representative of standardization in its country. Only one such body in each country is accepted for membership of ISO. Member bodies have the right to participate and to exercise full voting rights on any technical or policy committee of ISO. They can use ISO standards as the basis for their national standards (from My ISO Job).

Organization in liaison: an international or broadly-based regional organization that is represented in one of ISO’s technical committees, in a reciprocal arrangement (“A” liaison, as opposed to “B” or observer liaison). “A” liaisons have the same rights as a national body, including the right to comment on drafts, but they cannot vote. Liaison arrangements are also possible at the working group level (“D” liaison). This helps ensure wide acceptance of the final result and coordination of parallel standardization activities. – (adapted from the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1, clause 1.17; and information publication, My ISO Job). The same arrangements can apply for liaison with policy committees, such as ISO/COPOLCO.

(COPOLCO) Plenary meeting – A general meeting bringing together nominated representatives of a committee’s participating members from among the ISO Member Bodies.

Product: the result of a process, i.e. a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs, of which four generic categories are services, software, hardware and processed materials (adapted from ISO 9000:2005, Definitions 3.4.1 and 3.4.2).

Recognized Body: a legal or administrative entity that has specific tasks and composition, with acknowledged authority for publishing standards. (adapted from ISO 17000 and ISO/IEC Guide 2 for definitions of "recognition" and "body").

Service: the result of at least one activity necessarily performed at the interface between the supplier and the customer, which is generally intangible (See ISO 9000:2005, Definition 3.4.2, Note 2).

Societal security: protection of society from and response to crises caused by intentional and unintentional human acts, natural hazards and technical failures (See ISO 22300, Definition 5.1.31).

Specifications: tolerances, limiting values and other defining characteristics for materials, products, services, processes, systems or persons, contained within the provisions of a standard.

Stakeholder: Individual, or group of individuals, with interests that may affect, or be affected by, an organization (from ISO 26000: 2010, definition 2.20).

Standardizing body: Body that has recognized activities in standardization.

Standardization: Activity of establishing, with regard to actual or potential problems, provisions for common and repeated use, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context (from ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004, definition 1.1).

Technical harmonization: process of harmonizing technical practices of any kind, whether at the national, regional or international level. This process deals with technical issues, is facilitated by standards and is often used in support of policy objectives. One example would be a country that legislates mandatory compliance with ISO/IEC 14065, Greenhouse gases – Requirements for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies for use in accreditation or other forms of recognition, as part of its overall policy objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Technical regulation: Document which lays down product characteristics or their related processes and production methods, including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory. It may also include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labelling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production method.

(From ISO/IEC Guide 59: 1994, Annex A)

Third-party: a person or body that is independent of the organization or person that provides the object of conformity assessment (adapted from ISO/IEC 17000, 2005, Definition 2.4).


ANEC The European consumer voice in standardization (official title is The European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardization).
CEN European Committee for Standardization (note that CEN is a European association of national standards bodies and not a single committee).
CI Consumers International
COPOLCO (or ISO/COPOLCO) ISO’s Committee for Consumer Policy
DEVCO (or ISO/DEVCO) ISO’s Committee on Developing Country matters
DEVT ISO’s Technical Assistance and Training unit (the capacity building arm of ISO/DEVCO)
DIS Draft International Standard
FDIS Final Draft International Standard
ISO International Organization for Standardization
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
ITU International Telecommunication Union
NSB National Standards Body
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
WSC World Standards Cooperation
WTO World Trade Organization
WTO-TBT World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade