It is most usually known for its unsung work developing the international standards that underpin everything from agricultural equipment to construction tools or medical devices.
Yet the Geneva-based International Organisation for Standards (ISO) has now changed a name that has infuriated many in Wales – it has officially reclassified the nation as a country instead of a principality.
The decision was welcomed yesterday by Plaid AM Leanne Wood, who had lobbied for the change.
She said: “Wales is a country and has been for many centuries.
“We have our own unique language and cultures and now a primary lawmaking legislature. References to Wales being a principality should remain firmly in the past.”
It is a rare foray into the world of national politics for the ISO – a body created in 1947 to underpin common technical standards across the world.
The ISO’s standards appear on the packaging of items across the world, whether toothbrushes (ISO 22254:2005), tractors (ISO 3339-0:1986) or medical microscope information packs (ISO 12853:1997).
Paul Woodman, the chairman of the British Standards Institution, which is one of the 164 national member bodies of the ISO, confirmed the change in Wales’ status in a letter to Ms Wood.
He said: “The ISO entry originated in a traditional understanding of the status of Wales as given in reference works such as the 1976 Oxford Illustrated Dictionary.
“We were alerted by the Welsh Government to the fact that the notion of Wales as a principality is now outdated, and that Wales should properly be considered a country.
“Having subsequently received an official statement to this effect from that Government, I wrote on behalf of BSI to the ISO Secretariat in Geneva to request that a change be made from principality to country at the first available opportunity.”
Until his request, ISO Newsletters had described the United Kingdom as consisting of two countries, England and Scotland, with Northern Ireland described as a province and Wales a principality.
Ms Wood said that it had been a historic wrong to base the classification of the modern Wales on the name for the historic lands brought together in 1216 and named The Principality of Wales.
The lands of the Principality were formally united with England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542.
The term principality refers to a “monarchical feudatory” or sovereign state whose ruling monarch is a prince or a princess with an executive role in administering the state.
Ms Wood said: “It is debatable whether Wales was ever a principality as the territory that existed between 1216 and 1542 was significantly different to the boundaries of modern Wales.”
She said she took up the matter, and raised it with the Welsh Government after one of her constituents, Dai Barnaby from Llantrisant, alerted her to it in 2010.
Ms Wood added: “I would like to pay tribute to Mr Barnaby for raising this issue with me in the first place and campaigning so vigorously for Wales to be rightly acknowledged as a country.”
Mr Barnaby, who is an editor on the internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia in his spare time, campaigned to get the status changed after getting dragged into long and drawn-out debates about Wales’ status with fellow editors.
He said: “Describing Wales as a principality has no modern geographical or constitutional basis and is contrary to the views of the Welsh Government, , commentators, historians and the Welsh population.
“The Principality of Wales existed only between 1216 and 1542 and its area was significantly different to that of modern Wales.
“I was also concerned that describing Wales as a principality may lead people to believe that the Prince of Wales may have some constitutional role in Wales, or that. Wales’ status could be considered to be less than that of the countries of Scotland or England.”
The International Organisation for Standards has reclassified Wales as a country instead of a principality