The South African national standards body, SABS, has appealed against the result of the OOXML DIS 29500 ballot in ISO. In a letter sent to the General Secretary of the IEC (co-sponsor with ISO of JTC1), the SABS expresses its “deep concern over the increasing tendency of international organizations to use the JTC 1 process to circumvent the consensus-building process that is the cornerstone to the success and international acceptance of ISO and IEC standards.”
Having resigned as Chairman of the Norwegian committee responsible for considering OOXML for exactly this reason, I congratulate South Africa on its willingness to stand up for the principles on which standardization work should be based.
I would also like to take this opportunity to urge other national body members of JTC1 to declare their support for this appeal. Let’s make it impossible for ISO and IEC to simply wave it aside.
One issue that does concern me is whether we can expect fair consideration of the appeal on the part of ISO Technical Management Board (TMB): One of its members is the very same Norwegian bureaucrat (the “Little One“) who arrogantly ignored the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Norwegian technical experts and changed Norway’s vote from No to Yes. This person is clearly not impartial and should not be allowed to participate in the TMB’s discussion of the appeal.
South Africa’s action confirms that the battle is not yet lost. Here in Norway we are working hard to get the Norwegian vote changed back to No and we think we might succeed. If we do, only two more votes will have to be changed in order for the final outcome to be a rejection of OOXML. I urge those of you in countries that voted Yes or Abstain to investigate any irregularities and try to get the vote changed. Of course, we have no guarantee that JTC1 will accept revised votes. Such a thing has never happened before (to my knowledge), but then there are many things in this process that have happened for the first time – not least the passage of a 6,000 page document through the Fast-Track process.
But even if JTC1 cannot be forced to accept revised votes, we can achieve a moral victory that will make it easier for those trying to resist having OOXML thrust upon them as a standard for national e-Government.
Once again, my thanks and congratulations to South Africa… Amandla!
Update: Yoon Kit has provided a transcription of the text of the letter. Thanks, YK!