Consumers call for the development of International Standards for Corporate social responsibility.

Below please find the resolution of the Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) of ISO concerning ISO CSR standards, which was made at the June, 2002 meeting of COPOLCO. The report, The Desirability and Feasibility of ISO CSR standards" (to obtain a copy, see previous Forum posting) formed the basis for this resolution. ISO Council will meet in September to consider the resolutions of COPOLCO and other ISO committees on a wide range of topics.

COPOLCO PLENARY MEETING, Port-of-Spain (Trinidad and Tobago),
11-12 June 2002

COPOLCO Resolution 20/2002
COPOLCO,

noting that, at its meeting on 30 April/1 May 2001, the ISO Council had requested that ISO/COPOLCO consider the viability of International Standards concerning corporate social responsibility,
noting the growing number of standards initiatives on this subject which are being developed by recognized standards bodies, and initiatives by non-recognized standards bodies, having considered the report The Desirability and Feasibility of ISO Corporate Social Responsibility Standards prepared by its working group Consumer protection in the global market, decides to submit the report and its executive summary to the ISO Council for its consideration,
noting the workshop deliberations on this topic and, in particular, the working group report, the following points emerge:

– While corporations cannot and should not be expected to assume the role of government in protecting the public interest or providing the legal framework and ensuring the health, education and security of citizens, corporations can exercise leadership in creating communities and societies which are fair and safe for all;
– From COPOLCO’s perspective, ISO management system standards (MSS)
pertaining to corporate social responsibility are both desirable and feasible, and would build on the existing ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 management system series;
– ISO CSR MSS need to be flexible and practical, capable of being used by small, medium and large enterprises in developed and developing countries, regardless of the particular product or service provided by any particular enterprise, and developed in accordance with the requirements of ISO Guide 72 (which essentially stipulates that a strong business case be made before a new technical activity is undertaken);
– ISO CSR MSS represent only a partial response to the CSR issue, and they would need to work in conjunction with legal requirements and international norms;
– Stakeholder engagement plays a distinctive and integral role in the development and implementation of CSR at the firm level, and in ensuring that firm-level CSR commitments are acceptable to local stakeholders (whether they are located in developed or developing countries), and are effectively implemented;
– It is particularly important to ensure that the ISO/IEC Directives are followed and that standards development processes on this topic meaningfully involve the perspectives of the full range of stakeholders;
– A specially tasked ISO multi-stakeholder body is needed, similar to the ISO Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment, which proposed the development of the ISO 14000 MSS, and this body should engage in consultations concerning their findings which include the full range of affected stakeholders;
– ISO needs to engage in close and regular communication with other international organizations engaging in work in this area, including the U.N., I.L.O., O.E.C.D., and others;
– More exploration of the potential role of ISO deliverables other than standards needs to be undertaken, such as those taking the form of guidance documents, especially those which can be developed more quickly than standards and can be converted to standards at a later point;
– Particular care needs to be taken to ensure that claims made by firms concerning compliance with ISO CSR MSS are not misleading or deceptive,

recommends that the ISO Council establish as soon as possible a multi-stakeholder body to further explore the feasibility and desirability of ISO CSR management systems standards or alternative ISO deliverables, with a view to this body making recommendations on new work items in this area, and that this multi-stakeholder body engage in a full consultation process with all affected stakeholders concerning its findings,

decides that the working group Consumer protection in the global market conduct a preliminary ISO Guide 72 study for submission to the ISO Council and to the proposed new ISO multi-stakeholder group on CSR (should such a group be established);

decides that the working group Consumer protection in the global market monitor and support the work of the proposed new ISO multi-stakeholder group on CSR (should such a group be established) as well as other CSR initiatives, with a view to preparing a follow-up report on CSR developments for the next COPOLCO plenary meeting.

End of Resolution.

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