The 27th General Assembly of ISO, the world's largest developer of voluntary international standards, has a packed agenda including consideration of an increased role for standards in ensuring security, adoption of the organization's strategy for the next five years and an action plan for developing countries, and promotion of the ISO Code of Ethics.

The ISO General Assembly is being held on 14-16 September 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland. Participating are delegations of 113 of the 146 national standards institutes comprising ISO's worldwide membership. VIP guests include: Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva: Mr. Roderick Abbot, Deputy Director General of the WTO, and high-ranking officials of the WHO, UNIDO, ITC, IEC and ITU.

Opening of General Assembly
From left to right:
Mr. Jean-Daniel Gerber, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economics; Mr. Pierre Muller, Mayor of Geneva; Mr. Oliver Smoot, President of ISO; Mr. Carlo Lamprecht, Minister of Economics, State Councillor, Republic and Canton of Geneva; Usher, Republic and Canton of Geneva and Mr. Alan Bryden, Secretary-General of ISO.
( Click on the picture to enlarge)

The Swiss authorities are represented by: Mr. Jean-Daniel Gerber, Secretary of State of the Federal Department of the Economy; Mr. Carlo Lamprecht, State Counsellor, Department of the Economy, Employment and External Affairs, Canton of Geneva; and the Mayor of Geneva, Mr. Pierre Muller.

One of the main items on the agenda is a situation report by the ISO High-Level Security Advisory Group on the organization's current and potential involvement in standards for international security against threats such as criminal activity, terrorism and natural disaster.

A preliminary analysis of ISO's current portfolio - more than 14 600 standards for almost every area of technology and for most sectors of activity - has identified hundreds with security-related applications including new technologies such as biometric identification, for the monitoring of illicit trafficking or radioactive materials, and for securing freight containers in international trade.

The ISO members will be adopting the organization's strategy for 2005-2010 which has been developed following its most comprehensive consultation ever of its stakeholders all over the world, including its members, the users of standards and international organizations.

Of ISO's 146 member institutes, 110 are from developing countries and the General Assembly is to discuss and adopt an action plan aimed at making it easier for developing countries to participate in and benefit from international standardization.

ISO's commitment to its developing country members is now enshrined at the highest level in the recently adopted ISO Code of Ethics, which is being promoted at the General Assembly, while the ISO Strategic Plan 2005-2010 identifies raising the standardization capacity of developing countries as a key objective of the organization.