ISO is a network
of the national standards institutes of 157 countries, on the basis
of one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva,
Switzerland, that coordinates the system.
ISO is a non-governmental
organization: its members are not, as is the case in the United
Nations system, delegations of national governments. Nevertheless,
ISO occupies a special position between the public and private sectors.
This is because, on the one hand, many of its member institutes
are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are
mandated by their government. On the other hand, other members have
their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by
national partnerships of industry associations.
is able to act as a bridging organization in which a consensus can
be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business
and the broader needs of society, such as the needs of stakeholder
groups like consumers and users.