The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The ITU-IAF-ILAC MoU was signed on 14 May 2012 and strengthens the three organizations’ commitment to cooperation and collaboration, and will lend further impetus to the development of ITU-T’s Conformity and Interoperability (C&I) programme.
ITU international standards (Recommendations) seek above all to enable the interoperability of ICT products and services, allowing people access to the Information Society regardless of their location or chosen ICT device. Conformance with ITU’s international standards increases the probability that an ICT vendor’s products will interoperate with those of other vendors.
ITU’s C&I program is taking measures to increase the conformance and interoperability of ICT goods. A key part of this initiative lies in the adoption of test suites applicable to ITU international standards, and in the implementation of accredited conformity assessment activities including the establishment of a global network of regional conformance testing centres – tasked with evaluating products’ degree of compliance with ITU’s international standards, and thereby assessing the associated likelihood of interoperability.
Accreditation bodies independently evaluate the compliance of conformity assessment bodies against recognized international standards, verifying their competence and impartiality. Overlaying this assessment role is the peer evaluation of accreditation bodies that in turn provides the foundation for the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) and the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLAs) signed between accreditation bodies around the world. Such agreements encourage consumer confidence in tested products, increase market opportunities, encourage trade and technology transfer, and contribute to the removal of technical barriers to trade.
IAF establishes and manages the MLAs signed by its global membership of peer evaluated accreditation bodies, in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes. ILAC performs a similar function for its global membership of peer evaluated accreditation bodies in the fields of laboratory (including testing and calibration activities) and inspection accreditation. The two cooperative forums work together in harmonizing accreditation of conformity assessment programmes worldwide.
A conformance certificate from a Certification Body accredited by a signatory to an IAF MLA offers a company a single certification, accepted globally. Similarly, a test or inspection report issued by a laboratory or inspection body accredited by a signatory to an ILAC MRA, supports consumer confidence in the results and provides the opportunity for widespread acceptance.
The signing of the MoU will extend the reach of all three organizations; aiding the ITU’s C&I programme by ensuring that ITU standards translate into international ICT interoperability.