The International Network of Quality Infrastructure (INetQI) recently agreed on a new definition of quality infrastructure system as “The system comprising the organizations (public and private) together with the policies, relevant legal and regulatory framework, and practices needed to support and enhance the quality, safety and environmental soundness of goods, services and processes”. The definition expands its scope of action to globally promote the acceptance of quality infrastructure and is expected to create additional benefits for stakeholders including its use as a foundation for sustainable development.
International cooperation in this thematic area
Conformity assessment is the set of procedures that demonstrates specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person or body are fulfilled. It includes activities such as testing and inspection. Differences in required conformity assessment procedures constitute major barriers to trade.
UNECE encourages member States to coordinate their conformity assessment procedures such as to avoid multiple certification or testing. Four sectoral Initiatives launched by the START Team are based on Recommendation L, which explicitly calls for the use of best practice as a basis for conformity assessment procedures (cf. Art. 5.4), and the conclusion of agreements for the mutual recognition of the results from another country’s conformity assessment procedures (cf. Art. 6.3). International cooperation in conformity assessment was discussed at the Workshop on Conformity Assessment organized by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) back to back to the 2015 Session of the Working Party. The latest WP.6 session discussed also recent developments in conformity assessment and accreditation.
In the area of metrology the Working Party actively cooperates with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the International Organization of Legal Metrology to support development of best practice in the area of metrology especially as regards establishing the competence of conformity assessment bodies and test laboratories, including through accreditation. To further these goals, the Working Party developed and adopted Recommendation K, last amended in 2008. The Working Party also closely cooperates with Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the metrology body of Germany, who has been chairing and supporting the WP.6 since 2012.
At its 2014 Session, the Working Party discussed the role that metrology and quality infrastructure play for sustainable development: please see a related presentation and paper. At the latest session of the Working Party in November 2018 the overview on latest DCMAS Network (now renamed to INetQI) developments was presented.