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Everything you ever wanted to know about the  IAF/ILAC partnership


Richard McFarlane, Head of Technical Coordination, UKAS

ILAC – International laboratory accreditation cooperation started as a conference in 1977 to develop international cooperation for facilitating trade by promoting the acceptance of accredited test and calibration results. In 1996, ILAC became a formal cooperation with a charter to establish a network of mutual recognition agreements among accreditation bodies that would fulfil this aim. 

In 2000, the 36 ILAC full members consisting of laboratory accreditation bodies from 28 economies worldwide, signed the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ILAC MRA) in Washington DC, to promote the acceptance of technical test and calibration data for exported goods. The ILAC MRA for calibration and testing laboratories came into effect on 31 January 2001.

The ILAC MRA was then extended in October 2012 to include the accreditation of inspection bodies. In May 2019 it was further extended to include the accreditation of proficiency testing providers and in May 2020 for the accreditation of reference material producers.

IAF – International accreditation Forum was formed from the first meeting of ‘Organisations that Accredit Quality System Registrars and Certification Programmes’, which was held on 28 January 1993 in Houston, USA. The meeting was attended by representatives from the USA, Mexico, The Netherlands, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) is now a worldwide association of accreditation bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, processes, services, personnel, validation and verification and other similar programmes of conformity assessment. The primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment which reduces risk for businesses and their customers by assuring them that accredited certificates and validation and verification statements may be relied upon.

Partnership to date

ILAC and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) have been co-operating since 2001 to achieve improved alignment of their work programmes as this contributes to the effectiveness and efficiency of both organisations, their mutual members and delivery of value to their stakeholders.

This is an effective and well-established partnership that now includes joint meetings and work items at the management as well as the MRA/MLA levels. Examples of joint IAF/ILAC activities include the implementation of a biannual concurrent joint meeting schedule, publication of joint documents for example to cover the peer evaluation process, joint peer evaluations, combined representation and presentation with other key international organisations in the quality infrastructure framework and the publication of joint brochures and documents promoting accreditation and the benefits for trade, regulators and consumers.

World Accreditation Day, held on the 9 June each year, is a further example of a successful joint initiative between IAF and ILAC.

The plan

During a general assembly meeting in October 2019 a couple of resolutions were adopted that outlined the development of an IAF/ILAC partnership. The first resolution was to create a single international organisation for accreditation based on survey results and in support of strategic objectives of both entities. The second was to create a steering committee to lead the process of creating a single international organisation for accreditation.

A tender document was produced to select the steering committee, this was open to individuals and groups of individuals with a deadline of 14th August 2020 for submission.


Since the project began, much work has been undertaken to develop proposals for the establishment of a new organisation.  This includes consideration of the legal structure and organisation design.  At the 2023 Joint IAF-ILAC Annual Meetings in Montreal, Canada, IAF and ILAC signed a multi-year contract for the provision of IAF and ILAC secretariat services beginning 01 January 2024. The Contractor will also provide secretariat services for GLOBAC, the single international organisation for accreditation being formed by IAF and ILAC.

The secretariats of both the ILAC and IAF have completed the transition to the new Secretariat for ILAC and IAF. These teams will be tasked to ensure the continued success of ILAC and IAF and ensure the seamless transition to the new organisation GLOBAC.

ILAC and IAF have recently been invited to comment again on the constitution and General Rules for the new organisation.  These comments are being reviewed by the joint ILAC IAF Steering Group and the Executive Boards with the aim of progressing to a ballot to support progression to the next step.  Work is also underway to review the publications that outline the rules, policies and guidance of ILAC and IAF with a view to transfer relevant information to the new organisation.


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