Today marked the launching of the Standards Actions in the Global Market (SGM) Forum, a new grouping which brings together international organizations, representing both the private and governmental sectors, with a stake in standardization, either as developers or users.

The Forum comprises 11 international organizations both from within and without the United Nations system. The ISO President, Prof. Giacomo Elias commented: "I am convinced that the SGM Forum is destined to play a very special role as a facilitator of a greater partnership of public and private sectors - a theme which we know is very dear to the heart of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan."

In many instances, the SGM Forum will function as a round table for candid discussions of programmes, projects and studies that are completed, underway or planned within the participating organizations. Exchanges of focused information between the participants are expected to bring useful insights and to help avoid political pitfalls and wasteful duplication of effort and resource allocation. Such exchanges will also help the participants to identify useful links and crossover opportunities among their ongoing projects.

The organizations which participated in developing the forum concept and which are now launching their cooperative working relations are the following:

  • the users of international standardization, represented broadly by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Federation of Standards Users (IFAN) and the multinational industries represented by the Industry Cooperation on Standards and Conformity Assessment (ICSCA);
  • the international standardization bodies, represented by ISO, IEC and the Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the ITU,
  • and the remaining category, the organizations in the UN family, represented by the International Trade Center (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Economic Commission for Europe of the UN (UN/ECE), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Dr. Veit Ghiladi, from DaimlerChrysler and President of IFAN, commented on the benefits to be expected for major industrial companies from enhanced cooperation among the international organizations and agencies concerned with industrial standards and harmonized regulatory frameworks. Similar benefits were anticipated for the international business community by Mrs. Maria Livanos Cattaui, Secretary General of the ICC.

On the UN side, Dr. Roberto Castello, Deputy Director General of WIPO, welcomed the closer links between those working to improve the management of intellectual property rights (IPR) and those developing international standards and model regulations in the various sectors, and Mr. Yves Berthelot, Executive Secretary of UN/ECE, underlined the importance of mutually supportive work in areas relating to e-commerce, transport of dangerous goods, and model safety regulations. Mr. Octavio Maizza-Neto, Chief of Cabinet of UNIDO, also hailed the new cooperation as an important step towards consolidating integrated assistance for developing countries.

The first meeting of the SGM Forum was held at ISO's central office and was chaired by ISO Secretary-General, Dr. Lawrence D. Eicher, who noted that, "The motivation for establishing the SGM Forum rests on a general recognition of the inevitability of globalization, and that a rational and efficient development of the global free market can be substantially assisted by increased interaction between a number of international `rules and standards' players both from the private sector and the intergovernmental side." The international standards bodies ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission) and the ITU-T (Telecommunication Standardization Sector) occupy a privileged position halfway between the public and private sectors.