On May 21, after five years of development, the final draft document was approved in Copenhagen at the 8th plenary meeting dedicated to development of the ISO social corporate responsibility standard. Hot discussions of 400 delegates from 80 countries, 10 hours-long negotiations, and 1,500 considered comments were left behind. Final voting and publication are still ahead.
In fact, this meeting was of utmost importance. It answered the question of “to be or not to be” as regards the standard in general. During the previous voting, ISO 26000 gained a crucial number of positive votes: 79% (whereby 75% is a limit). China, Russia, Slovakia, and most Arab countries voted against it (18 countries in total). Some of influential European countries such as Austria, Great Britain, and Germany made no pronouncement on the vote.
ISO 26000: process during 2005 – 2010:
- 8 international meetings;
- including 400 experts and observers (100,000 manhours);
- 99 countries, ISO members, participated in the event;
- 42 non-governmental and private organizations such as D liaison organizations;
- in total, over 25,000 comments were received;
- 2,482 written comments were received to be processed at the last stage;
- 177 resolutions were adopted.
Given the ambiguous attitude taken by many countries, the whole world closely followed the meeting in Copenhagen. The main intrigue consisted in whether the principal disputes would be settled, namely:
- accessibility and volume of the standard;
- possibility of it being used by various organizations; trade barriers and cooperation with the WTO
- role of the government and the state;
- interaction of interests of the interested parties, etc.
During the session, one of the most controversial issues was the role and cooperation of the government and private organizations, particularly within the context of the governmental policy and international legal obligations. This, in its turn, gave rise to an array of questions about the condition of global governance and confusion between “private” and “public” matters. The issue of non-trade barrier remains unsettled as well. 1,500 controversial comments and “15 Key Copenhagen Topics” were agreed upon in total. Maryna Saprykina, Head of the Centre of CSR Development, said: “It is very important for ISO 26000 to achieve the final stage. At the meeting, there were many discussions and disputes; however, a consensus was reached on the key issues.
For example, one of the key concessions to satisfy the Chinese delegation and Arab nations was replacement of the “sexual orientation” term with the “personal relations” definition (this definition was chosen from among 40 other proposed terms”. After the Copenhagen meeting successfully ended, Jorge Kayazeyra, Head of the ISO/WG SR working group, stated: “ISO 26000 will provide both public and private organizations with a new paradigm and will help them work in a socially responsible way; this is what today’s society is expecting. The standard will help them achieve long-term economic benefits with minimum social costs and minimum harmful effects on the environment”.
As it comes to market expectations from introduction of ISO 26000, we could discern three key moments here:
- Global approval of social responsibility terms and principles;
- Global approval of the key social responsibility topics;
- Management for social responsibility implementation within the organization.
ISO 26000 is a governing standard and does not require to be certified by a third party. The standard must approve the terminology and determine the key CSR topics for all of the global market players. As regards the third item, there were a lot of discussions about certification. There were various points of view, but it was finally decided to leave it as a voluntary initiative of organizations.
WG SR way from Salvador to Quebec 177 resolutions
- Salvador, March 7-11, 2005: issues papers, CAG, Draft structure Bangkok, September 26-30, 2005:
- design specification, 1,000 comments on the structure, Working Groups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and Editing Committee Lisbon, May 15-19, 2006:
- WD1 + 2,140 comments by experts, TGs4,5,6 key issues, Liaison Task Force (LTF) was formed Sidney, January 28 – February 2, 2007:
- WD1 + 5,176 comments by experts, TGs4,5,6 key issues, Liaison Key Topics between TG’s4,5,6 Vienna, November 5-9, 2007:
- WD3.2 + 7,250 comments by experts, TG 4,5,6 key issues, and Liaison Key Topics, LTF closed and to Integrated Drafting Task Force (IDTF) Santiago, 1-5 September, 2008:
- WD4.2 + 5,225 comments by experts Quebec, 18-22 May, 2009: CD + 3,411 comments by experts Copenhagen, May 17-21, 2010: DIS + 2,482 approved comments.