ISO Appeal: South Africa Rises to the Challenge


When the ISO vote was “won” by OOXML, many spoke of challenging the result, but nobody actually took that step. Until now:

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.”

As the same post goes on to point out:

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.

And let's not forget that we have our own plucky UKUUG's attempt to do the same here.

Also worth noting here is the growing stature of the South African computer community in terms of standing up for open standards and open source, which is great to see. I don't think it's a coincidence that Microsoft's Jason Matusow has recently attacked the South African government for its policies on computer procurement – a sure sign they're doing something right.