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ISO 26000 History:
The membership of the ISO/WG SR was the largest and the most broadly based in terms of stakeholder representation of any single group formed to develop an ISO standard.

Six main stakeholder groups were represented: industry; government; labor; consumers: nongovernmental organizations; service, support, research and others, as well as a geographical and gender-based balance of participants.

Under the joint leadership of the ISO members for Brazil (ABNT) and Sweden (SIS), it was made up of experts from ISO members (national standards bodies NSBs) and from liaison organizations (associations representing business, consumers or labor, or inter-governmental or nongovernmental organizations).  Membership was limited to a maximum of six experts per NSB and two experts per liaison organization.

The need for ISO to work on an SR standard was first identified in 2001 by ISO/COPOLCO, Committee on consumer policy.  In 2003, the multi-stakeholder ISO Ad Hoc Group on SR which had been set up by ISO´s Technical Management Board (TMB) completed an extensive overview of SR initiatives and issues worldwide.

In 2004, ISO held an international, multi-stakeholder conference on whether or not it should launch SR work.  The positive recommendation of this conference led to the establishment in late 2004 of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO/WG SR) to develop the future ISO 26000 standard.

In July 2010, the ISO/WG SR had 450 participating experts and 210 observers from 99 ISO member countries and 42 liaison organizations.  ISO 26000 was published in 1 November 2010.

ISO 26000:
The International Standard ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on Social Responsibility (SR), provides harmonized, globally relevant guidance
in developed and developing countries, for private and public sector organizations of all types based on international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups, and so encourage the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide.  ISO 26000 adds value to existing work on social responsibility (SR) and extends the understanding and implementation of SR by:
- Developing an international consensus on what SR means and the SR issues that organizations need to address
- Providing guidance on translating principles into effective actions
- Refining best practices that have already evolved and disseminating the information worldwide for the good of the international community

ISO 26000:2010 is not a management system standard.  It is not intended or appropriate for certification purposes or regulatory or contractual use.  Any offer to certify, or claims to be certified, to ISO 26000 would be a misrepresentation of the intent and purpose and a misuse of ISO 26000:2010.  As ISO 26000:2010 does not contain requirements, any such certification would not be a demonstration of conformity with ISO 26000:2010.

ISO 26000 will integrate international expertise on social responsibility- what it means, what issues an organization needs to address in order to operate in a socially responsible manner, and what is best practice in implementing SR.  ISO 26000 will be a powerful SR tool to assist organizations to move from good intentions to good actions.

ISO 26000:2010 is intended to assist organizations in contributing to sustainable development.  It is intended to encourage them to go beyond legal compliance, recognizing that compliance with law is a fundamental duty of any organization and an essential part of their social responsibility.  It is intended to promote common understanding in the field of social responsibility, and to complement other instruments and initiatives for social responsibility, not to replace them.

ISO 26000:2010 is intended to provide organizations with guidance concerning social responsibility and can be used as part of public policy activities.  However, for the purposes of the Marrakech Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO), it is not intended to be interpreted as an "International standard", "guideline" or "recommendation", nor is it intended to provide a basis for any presumption or finding that a measure is consistent with WTO obligations.  Further, it is not intended to provide a basis for legal actions, complaints, defenses or other claims in any international, domestic or other proceeding, nor is it intended to be cited as evidence of the evolution of customary international law. 

ISO 26000:2010 is not intended to prevent the development of national standards that are more specific, more demanding, or of a different type.

Implementing ISO 26000:
In applying ISO 26000:2010, it is advisable that an organization take into consideration societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political and organizational diversity, as well as differences in economic conditions, while being consistent with international norms of behavior.

Sustainable business for organizations means not only providing products and services that satisfy the customer, and doing so without jeopardizing the environment, but also operating in a socially responsible manner.

Pressure to do so comes from customers, consumers, governments, associations and the public at large.  At the same time, far-sighted organizational leaders recognize that lasting success must be built on credible business practices and the prevention of such activities as fraudulent accounting and labor exploitation.

On the one hand, there have been a number of high-level declarations of principle related to SR and, on the other, there are many individual SR programs and initiatives.  The challenge is how to put the principles into practice and how to implement SR effectively and efficiently when even the understanding of what "social responsibility" means may vary from one program to another.  In addition, previous initiatives have tended to focus on "corporate social responsibility", while ISO 26000 will provide SR guidance not only for business organizations, but also for public sector organizations of all types.

ISO 26000 will distil a globally relevant understanding of what social responsibility is and what organizations need to do to operate in a socially responsible way.

Benefits of ISO 26000:
The guidance in ISO 26000 draws on best practice developed by existing public and private sector SR initiatives.  It is consistent with and complements relevant declarations and conventions by the United Nations and its constituents, notably the International Labor Organization (ILO), with whom ISO has established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure consistency with ILO labor standards.  ISO has also signed MoUs with the United Nations Global Compact Office (UNGCO) and with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to enhance their cooperation on the development of ISO 26000.

ISO 26000 will help all types of organization, regardless of their size, activity or location ,to operate in a socially responsible manner by providing guidance on:
- Concepts, terms and definitions related to social responsibility
- Background, trends and characteristics of social responsibility
- Principles and practices relating to social responsibility
- Core subjects and issues related to social responsibility
- Integrating, implementing and promoting socially responsible behavior throughout the organization and, through its policies and practices, within its sphere of influence
- Identifying and engaging with stakeholders
- Communicating commitments, performance and other information related to social responsibility

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