The fruitful partnership between ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) has just produced a new handbook, Building trustThe Conformity Assessment Toolbox.

Building trust is a comprehensive, user-friendly handbook covering all aspects of conformity assessment and its role in international trade, and will be useful for business managers, regulators and consumer representatives.

The book's Preface is contributed by ISO Secretary-General, Rob Steele, and UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella, who write: "Businessmen, consumers and public officials have certain expectations about the quality, safety, reliability, interoperability, efficiency, effectiveness and environmental sustainability of products and services.

"Conformity assessment provides the means for testing the compliance of such products and services with these expectations, in accordance with relevant standards, regulations and other specifications. It helps to ensure that products and services deliver on their promises.  In other words, conformity assessment builds trust."

However, non-acceptance of test reports and certificates of conformity continues to be an obstacle to international trade. Successive reviews of the World Trade Organization's  Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade have noted the usefulness of the conformity assessment standards and guides developed by ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in harmonizing conformity assessment practices and as benchmarks for the technical competence of assessment bodies.

The use of these standards and guides therefore helps to overcome trade barriers. UNIDO, meanwhile, has acquired more than 40 years of experience in supporting the establishment and upgrading of standards and conformity assessment structures worldwide.

Building trust covers the following aspects of conformity assessment:

  • Basic concepts
  • Conformity assessment techniques
  • Conformity assessment schemes and systems
  • Conformity assessment bodies
  • How UNIDO can help with setting up a quality infrastructure
  • Case studies
  • ISO Committee on conformity asssessment, ISO/CASCO
  • Coordination of accreditation bodies
  • Conformity assessment and the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

The handbook is the latest in a series of joint publications issued by ISO and UNIDO, and is the result of the long-standing and fruitful partnership between the two organizations to strengthen the standardization and quality infrastructures of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Although aimed specifically at this group of countries, these publications are also intended to serve as handy reference tools for all who are involved or interested in conformity assessment and trade.

Building trustThe Conformity Assessment Toolbox is available in English (189 pages, ISBN 978-92-67-10511-6) and French (211 pages, ISBN 978-92-67-20511-3) editions. It is available free of charge (fee for postage and handling) from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department. It can also be obtained from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). The handbook can also be downloaded as a PDF file free of charge from the ISO (www.iso.org) and UNIDO (www.unido.org) Websites.

Building trust

A handbook covering all aspects of conformity assessment and its role in international trade.