ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization, being the largest developer of voluntary International Standards in the world. These International Standards are the ones providing specifications regarding products, good practice, and services. In this way, they help industries become more effective and efficient.
Out of the 205 total countries in the world, 162 of them are ISO members. However, ISO has several membership categories:
1. Member bodies, also known as full members, which are national bodies with an influence over ISO’s standards development and strategy. They have the right to participate and to vote in technical and policy meetings initiated by ISO. They are also entitled to selling and adopting ISO International Standards on a national level. They are also called P (participant) members. Example of member bodies include powerful countries such as Argentina, Australia, Germany, Italy, USA, France, United Kingdom, India, China, Japan, Brazil,
Canada, and Russia.
2. Correspondent members represent the countries lacking their own standards organization. Therefore, they can only observe the development of ISO standards and strategy. In order to do that, they get to attend ISO technical and policy meetings, but only as observers. In order words, they are informed about the organization’s work, but do not take part in the promulgation of standards. However, they can also sell and adopt ISO International Standards nationally. They are also called O (observing) members. These correspondent members are not such powerful countries as the member bodies, but they are neither developing. Examples include Afghanistan, Bolivia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Paraguay, and Uganda.
3. Subscriber members refer to developing countries with small economies. They can keep up to date and get informed on ISO’s work, but they do not have the right to participate in it. They can basically subscribe to ISO’s activity by paying reduced membership fees, which enables them to follow the development of standards. The International Standards provide great technological know-how for these developing countries, since they can use these standards to gain access to knowledge in areas where expertise and other resources are lacking. The subscriber members are: Antigua and Barbuda, Honduras, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.