The International Skating Union (ISU) is the international governing body for competitive ice skating disciplines, including figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. It was founded in Scheveningen, Netherlands, in July 1892, making it one of the oldest international sport federations. The ISU was formed to establish standardized international rules and regulations for the skating disciplines it governs, and to organize international competitions in these disciplines. It is now based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The International Skating Union (ISU) was founded in 1892 to govern speed skating and figure skating.  In 1895, the ISU streamlined its mission to deal only with amateur competitors and not professionals. The organization hosted its first amateur skating championship in February 1896 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The United States and Canada formed a competing organization, the International Skating Union of America (ISUA), in 1907. Within the next two years, twelve European nations had joined the ISU, and the ISUA had only its original members. The ISUA folded in 1927.
European and North American figure skaters rarely competed against each other due to differences in their styles of skating. The ISU had "systematized and arranged" the sport of figure skating, with competitions including "a selection of ten or twelve numbers from the I. S. U. programme, ... five minutes' free skating to music, ... [and] special figures" on one foot. In 1911, Canada joined the ISU, leaving the United States as the only major competitor to not be a member.
Short track speed skating gained its own world championship event, hosted by the ISU, in 1976. At the time, the sport was known as indoor speed skating, but it was renamed short-track when indoor rinks for the longer speed skating events were introduced.
By 1988, 38 nations had joined the ISU. Within the next few years, the ISU abandoned one of its long-held practices, eliminating the use of mandatory figures in the singles' figure skating competitions and reducing their use in ice dancing.
After the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, the ISU implemented sweeping changes to many of its events. In one of the short track speed skating events, Apolo Anton Ohno was awarded the gold medal after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung. Although the South Korean delegation protested the disqualification, ISU rules did not allow for a review of the official's call. Several months later, the ISU approved the use of video replay, when available, to review referee decisions. The rules for judging figure skating were also changed as the result of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal. According to Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the ISU, "'Something was wrong there,' ... 'Not just the individual but also the system. It existed for 70 years. Now we are trying to replace one system with another.'" A new figure skating judging system took effect in 2004, eliminating the 6.0 system perfect scores and instead giving points for various technical elements.
In addition to sanctioning other international competitions, the ISU designates the following competitions each year as "ISU Championships":
Dates and locations of first world championships in various disciplines held under the auspices of the ISU:
ISU has an agreement with Federation of International Bandy to use the same arenas. The cooperation between the two federations is increasing, since both have an interest in more indoor venues with large ice surfaces being built.
As of the summer of 2008, the ISU consisted of 63 member nations, with a governing council of 11. To add any proposal to the agenda of meetings, it must have support from four-fifths of the members. Proposals on the agenda are approved with a two-thirds majority vote.
As of 16 July 2018, there are 93 member federations of the International Skating Union. In many countries, figure skating and speed skating are governed by different federations, but both can be members of the ISU; the national federations are ISU members for figure skating, for speed skating or for both. Some of these national federations also govern other sports in their countries, but are not ISU members in that capacity. Apart from the national governing bodies, there are also some old skating clubs which are members in their own rights.