Laboratory and inspection body accreditation authorities throughout the world have established international and regional groupings of cooperation.
The objectives of the cooperation are to:
- Develop and harmonise laboratory and inspection accreditation practices
- Promote these accreditation to industry, governments, regulators and consumers
- Foster and promote competent laboratories and inspection bodies
- Gain universal acceptance of accredited certificates and reports
- Facilitate mutual recognition of accredited test, measurement and inspection results (see Mutual Recognition Arrangements)
- Exchange technical knowledge among members.
These objectives are consistent with the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). This agreement encourages WTO members to recognise each other’s conformity assessment results, provided they are confident the procedures are equivalent. In most economies, Governments recognise and encourage the use of accredited reports to facilitate trade and for ensuring the safety of goods and services being imported.
The forum for international cooperation between the various laboratory and inspection body accreditation schemes operated throughout the world is the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). First started as a conference in 1977, with IANZ as a founding signatory, ILAC was formalised as cooperation in 1996. Its aim is to facilitate trade by promoting the acceptance of accredited test, calibration and inspection reports that can be relied on to provide accurate data.
Full members of ILAC, including IANZ, are signatories to Mutual Recognition Arrangements, which allow for global acceptance of accredited test and inspection reports.
Contact details of each current member country of ILAC can be found on http://www.ilac.org/members_contact_details.html
A full list of signatory partners, their scope of mutual recognition and signing dates can be found on http://www.ilac.org/documents/mra_signatories.pdf
Full information about ILAC and its activities are to be found on http://www.ilac.org/
ILAC members are also members of formally established regional accreditation cooperation organisations. These organisations have objectives similar to and compatible with ILAC, and are committed to the obligations of the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement.
There are currently four regional accreditation cooperation organisations:
Information about each of these regional accreditation cooperation organisations can be found on their websites – use the hyperlink provided.
Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRAs)
The aim of the international accreditation cooperation – to facilitate trade and ensure safety for consumers – is realised through Mutual Recognition Arrangements between accreditation authority members of ILAC, carried out in accordance with ILAC rules and procedures. Each signatory to the MRA agree to:
All signatories are regularly peer-reviewed to show they continually meet the ILAC criteria for competence.
Full details of the ILAC Arrangement are to be found on www.ilac.org/ILAC arrangement.