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The Arab Accreditation Cooperation (ARAC) - An update

1.    ARAC membership in IAF

Following a favourable review by the IAF Executive committee and 30-day ballot to IAF members, ARAC was accepted in September 2013 as an IAF Special Recognition Organization - Regional Accreditation Group Member.

ARAC and IAF Chairs signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the margin of the ILAC & IAF General Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on 24th October 2013.

2.    Technical Cooperation

2.1  ARAC - APLAC

In the margin of the ILAC and IAF General Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, ARAC and APLAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 24th October 2013.

The scope of the MoU covers the relationship between ARAC and APLAC on matters of accreditation and conformity assessment policy. It sits beside the roles and responsibilities that the parties already have towards each other, arising from their memberships in the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). Some areas of cooperation and responsibility include training and development, proficiency testing programmes and support on technical matters.

2.2  ARAC-AFRAC

ARAC and The African Accreditation Cooperation [AFRAC] continue to work closely to identify further areas for cooperation in support of their Technical Cooperation Agreement signed in March 2013. The implementation of this agreement will be started by organizing a joint Peer evaluation of the two accreditation bodies, TUNAC (Tunisian Accreditation Body) and EGAC (Egyptian Accreditation Body) as ARAC and AFRAC share some common members (African Accreditation Bodies).

2.3  ARAC-SWEDAC

The cooperation between ARAC and SWEDAC was achieved through the training of the ARAC MLA committee members on the application of the ILAC/IAF A series documentations and the key steps that have to be taken by ARAC in order to be a recognized Regional Cooperation Body.

2.4  ARAC -TURKAK

The cooperation between ARAC and TURKAK was achieved through the organization of a Regional training workshop and coaching sessions. The aim of which was to improve and share best practice, and to update the skills of assessment staff in the Arab region accreditation bodies. In addition these workshops improved working relations between the ARAC and TURKAK member bodies.

The cooperation with TURKAK will continue, as their qualified EA Peer evaluators will participate in ARAC Peer evaluations.

3.    ARAC MLA Committee meetings:

The first ARAC MLA committee meeting was hosted by the Swedish Board for Accreditation and Conformity Assessment (SWEDAC) on the 1st and 2nd July 2013, at SWEDAC’s offices in Stockholm.

During this meeting Mrs. Merih Malmqvist Nilsson, ILAC Vice Chair and SWEDAC Deputy Director General, advised the ARAC MLA committee members about the use of the ILAC/IAF A series documentation and the key steps that have to be taken by ARAC in order to be a recognized Regional Cooperation Body.

During the meeting the ARAC Peer evaluation process and the first ARAC peer evaluators was launched. The ARAC MLA Committee members continued to meet (in September & November 2013) in order to properly prepare the forthcoming ARAC Peer evaluations and to fully understand the ARAC Peer evaluation process documentation, in particular the ARAC MLA decision making process requirements.

 4.    ARAC Regional Training Workshop on the International Standard ISO/IEC 17021:2011

ARAC organized a ‘Qualifying Training Workshop’ on the standard ISO/IEC 17021:2011, The aim of the workshop was to improve and share best practice and to update the skills of assessment staff from the Arab regional accreditation bodies. The workshop took place on 17th - 21st June 2012 in Tunis, Tunisia. Sixteen delegates attended from eight Arab Accreditation bodies.

The workshop also focused on the harmonization of the assessment of the conformity assessment bodies. It also provided the forum for coaching trainee Assessors who were able to experience the assessment of a certification body.

ARAC organized the workshop in partnership with the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization [AIDMO], the United Nations Industrial Development Organization [UNIDO] and the Swedish International Development Agency [SIDA].

5.    2013 ARAC Mid Year Meetings 

The ARAC Mid Year meetings (Executive committee, MLA Committee, Technical Committee and Communication and Marketing Committee) were held between the 3rd-5th September 2013 in Amman, Jordan with participation of ARAC Committees Chairs, members and UNIDO representative.

These meetings agreed the following items:
•  Planning the next ARAC Peer evaluations,
•  Preparation of the ARAC Peer evaluation process documentation,
•  Amendment of the ARAC Bylaw,
•  Preparation of the ARAC committees work plans for the next four years
•  Improvement of the prepared ARAC procedures and guideline (Committees TORs, document control procedure etc. …).

ARAC would like to extend its gratitude to UNIDO, AIDMO and SIDA for supporting the organization of the ARAC committees meetings.

6.    ARAC MLA Regional workshop for ARAC MLA Committee members and ARAC Peer evaluators

In partnership with AIDMO, UNIDO and SIDA, ARAC organized a Regional workshop between the 19th - 20th November 2013 in Tunis, Tunisia, for its MLA committee members and Peer evaluators.

The aim of the workshop was to:
•  Inform and discuss with attendees the changes in the procedures for the IAF/ILAC A1  (Requirements and Procedures for the Evaluation of a Region) and IAF/ILAC A2 (Requirements and Procedures for the Evaluation of a Single Accreditation Body).
•  Provide information about the results from the ILAC/IAF Joint Working Group A-series meeting and training workshop held during the 2013 ILAC/IAF annual meetings in Seoul, South Korea.
•  To discuss the implementation of these changes at the ARAC Peer evaluations.
•  Provide information and discuss the ARAC Peer evaluation process documentation and   requirements.
•  Provide information and discuss the use of the applicable ARAC forms during the Peer   evaluations.
•  Provide training on the ARAC MLA process requirements.

7.    ARAC Participation at ILAC/IAF working groups

ARAC participated in the ILAC/IAF Peer evaluators Task Force Group which is responsible for conducting the ILAC and IAF needs analysis for Evaluator’s, required over the next 5 years. Also they identified support required for the development of Regional Accreditation Body Evaluators.

8.    ARAC Information and Publications

ARAC has added a ‘Members Only’ section in the ARAC website, which provides information for its members and for each Committee.
Further information on ARAC activities is available at www.arabarac.org or by contacting the ARAC Secretary, Mr. Hasan Qasem at secretariat@arabarac.org .

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