The IAF Regional Accreditation Group “EA” (European Co-operation for Accreditation) has publicly denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a strongly-worded statement.

Published on its official website, the EA statement reads in full:

EA and its members stand for democracy, transparency and partnership. Hence, EA strongly condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This is a clear violation of international law, and it poses a real threat to peace and security in Ukraine, Europe and beyond.

Our thoughts are with our Ukrainian colleagues and friends from NAAU, the National Accreditation Body of the Ukraine, and with all Ukrainian people.

In solidarity with the Ukraine, EA supports the strong measures of the European Union and its European and International partners to defend international rules and to support Ukraine and its people.

EA urgently calls for an end of this horrible war!

While the statement lacks specifics, Oxebridge has learned that EA has begun taking immediate action to dismantle the accreditation of ISO certificates issued in Russia.

EA does not have any Russian members, and is instead enforcing its will through European bodies — such as Akkreditierung Austria (AA) and Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) — who operate in Russia.

The Belarus accreditation body BSCA is a member of EA, however, and Belarus is facing increasing sanctions over its support of Russia’s invasion. So far, it is not clear if EA is taking any action to uphold the Belarus sanctions.

EA Resisted Sanctions, Emboldened Rostec

EA had previously fought against honoring sanctions. Oxebridge filed a formal complaint on the matter in June of 2021, specific to Russian certifications issued by its member Akkreditierung Austria in violation of sanctions imposed after the Crimea invasion. EA representative Martine Blum claimed the matter was being formally processed, but then EA dropped the investigation without notice, in violation of their own procedures. EA has aggressively worked to protect Akkreditierung Austria  and other members alleged to have been involved in criminal activities.

Akkreditierung Austria faces the most problems. The certification body Quality Austria, accredited by AA, has partnered directly with state-run Russian firms, including Rostec which has been under sanctions since 2014. Both Quality Austria and AA have ignored calls to honor international law and stop supporting Rostec.

Meanwhile, the Russian accreditation body RusAccreditation is a member of another regional body, APAC (Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation.) While RusAccreditation is not a full IAF MRA signatory, and does not go through peer evaluations, it nevertheless has lent its logo for use by Rostec, which then issues ISO 9001 certificates to others. APAC has still not made any announcement regarding abiding by sanctions or upholding international law.

Official Rostec website boasting its ties to RusAccreditation and Quality Austria.

The APAC governing documents demand that its members “comply with applicable laws and regulations, both domestic and international,” but APAC has ignored these rules since at least 2014.

APAC has been aggressive in marketing to countries not normally considered part of the “Asia Pacific,” in order to boost its membership revenue. For example, APAC considers the United States an “Asian Pacific” country because it has a coast on the Pacific Ocean. APAC has leaned heavily into support of Russia.

Maze of Bodies, Rules, and Regions

The murky relationship between certification bodies, accreditation bodies, and regional groups highlights the ineffectiveness of the IAF accreditation pyramid. Often, the bodies themselves are not even aware of what companies and geographic zones fall under their oversight. Loose geographic rules allow bodies to “shop” for the regional accreditation group with the least prohibitive oversight, such as APAC.

The IAF itself, however, continues to refuse to take action in relation to upholding international law, opting to lean on its policies of “neutrality.” The IAF Chair Emanuele Riva has been crippled by adherence to bureaucratic procedures and financial conflicts of interest. Riva works for the Italian accreditation body ACCREDIA, which has ties to Russian firms, and the IAF itself obtains a portion of its revenue through the fees paid by Russian companies, filtered through its members.

ILAC — the laboratory accreditation oversight body which will merge with IAF soon — has also refused to stop accreditation activities in Russia. Other accreditation bodies who have benefitted from relations with Russian firms under international sanctions, while remaining silent, include ANAB, UKAS, and DAkkS.

ISO has also refused to take action, and continues to sell its products in Russia.

Thanks in part to the Oxebridge “Stop Supporting Russia” campaign, some ISO scheme bodies have taken action, however. IQNet had issued hundreds of certificates in Russia, but has withdrawn them from their website. The aerospace body IAQG, which manages the AS9100 certification scheme, is reported to be preparing a statement for later today.

The Oxebridge campaign appears to have been effective as it warned US persons they face 30 years in prison for OFAC violations.

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Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.