General Conference on Weights and Measures
The General Conference on Weights and Measures (French: Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures, abbreviated CGPM and sometimes referred to as the GCWM) is the supreme authority of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, the inter-governmental organization established in 1875 under the terms of the Metre Convention through which Member States act together on matters related to measurement science and measurement standards. The CGPM is made up of delegates of the governments of the Member States and observers from the Associates of the CGPM. Under its authority, the International Committee for Weights and Measures – CIPM executes an exclusive direction and supervision of the BIPM.
The General Conference receives the report of the CIPM on work accomplished; it discusses and examines the arrangements required to ensure the propagation and improvement of the International System of Units (SI); it endorses the results of new fundamental metrological determinations and various scientific resolutions of international scope; and it decides all major issues concerning the organization and development of the BIPM, including the dotation of the BIPM.
The CGPM meets in Sèvres (south-west of Paris) usually once every four years. The 25th meeting of the CGPM took place from 18 to 20 November 2014, and the 26th meeting of the CGPM took place in Versailles from 13 to 16 November 2018.
Initially the Metre Convention was only concerned with the kilogram and the metre, but in 1921 the scope of the treaty was extended to accommodate all physical measurements and hence all aspects of the metric system. In 1960 the 11th CGPM approved the International System of Units, usually known as "SI".
On 20 May 1875 an international treaty known as the Convention du Mètre (Metre Convention) was signed by 17 states. This treaty established the following organisations to conduct international activities relating to a uniform system for measurements:
- Conférence générale des poids et mesures (CGPM), an intergovernmental conference of official delegates of member nations and the supreme authority for all actions;
- Comité international des poids et mesures (CIPM), consisting of selected scientists and metrologists, which prepares and executes the decisions of the CGPM and is responsible for the supervision of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures;
- Bureau international des poids et mesures (BIPM), a permanent laboratory and world centre of scientific metrology, the activities of which include the establishment of the basic standards and scales of the principal physical quantities and maintenance of the international prototype standards.
The CGPM acts on behalf of the governments of its members. In so doing, it appoints members to the CIPM, receives reports from the CIPM which it passes on to the governments and national laboratories on member states, examines and where appropriate approves proposals from the CIPM in respect of changes to the International System of Units (SI), approves the budget for the BIPM (over €13 million in 2018) and it decides all major issues concerning the organization and development of the BIPM.
The structure is analogous to that of a stock corporation. The CGPM is the general meeting of the shareholders, the CIPM is the board of directors appointed by the CGPM, and the BIPM are the executives and staff who perform the day-to-day work.
The CGPM recognises two classes of membership – full membership for those states that wish to participate in the activities of the BIPM and associate membership for those countries or economies that only wish to participate in the CIPM MRA program. Associate members have observer status at the CGPM. Since all formal liaison between the convention organisations and national governments is handled by the member state's ambassador to France, it is implicit that member states must have diplomatic relations with France, though during both world wars, nations that were at war with France retained their membership of the CGPM. CGPM meetings are chaired by the Président de l'Académie des Sciences de Paris.
Of the twenty countries that attended the Conference of the Metre in 1875, representatives of seventeen signed the convention on 20 May 1875. In April 1884 HJ Chaney, Warden of Standards in London unofficially contacted the BIPM inquiring whether the BIPM would calibrate some metre standards that had been manufactured in the United Kingdom. Broch, director of the BIPM replied that he was not authorised to perform any such calibrations for non-member states. On 17 September 1884, the British Government signed the convention on behalf of the United Kingdom. This number grew to 21 in 1900, 32 in 1950, and 49 in 2001. As of 14 November 2018, there are 59 Member States and 42 Associate States and Economies of the General Conference (with year of partnership in parentheses):
Czech Republic (1922)
New Zealand (1991)
Russian Federation (1875)
Saudi Arabia (2011)
South Africa (1964)
South Korea (1959)
United Arab Emirates (2015)
United Kingdom (1884)
United States (1878)
At the 21st meeting of the CGPM in October 1999, the category of "associate" was created for states not yet BIPM members and for economic unions.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011)
Caribbean Community (2005)
Chinese Taipei (2002)
Costa Rica (2004)
Hong Kong (2000)
North Macedonia (2006)
Sri Lanka (2007)
|1st (1889)||The International Prototype Kilogram (IPK), a cylinder made of platinum-iridium and the International Prototype Metre, an X-cross-section bar also made from platinum-iridium were selected from batches manufactured by the British firm Johnson Matthey. Working copies of both artifacts were also selected by lot and other copies distributed to member nations, again by lot. The prototypes and working copies were deposited at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (Bureau international des poids et mesures), Sèvres, France.|
|2nd (1897)||No resolutions were passed by the 2nd CGPM.|
|3rd (1901)||The litre was redefined as volume of 1 kg of water. Clarified that kilograms are units of mass, "standard weight" defined, standard acceleration of gravity defined endorsing use of grams force and making them well-defined.|
|4th (1907)||The carat was defined as 200 mg.|
|5th (1913)||The International Temperature Scale was proposed.|
|6th (1921)||The Metre Convention revised.|
|7th (1927)||The Consultative Committee for Electricity (CCE) created.|
|8th (1933)||The need for absolute electrical unit identified.|
|9th (1948)||The ampere, bar, coulomb, farad, henry, joule, newton, ohm, volt, watt, weber were defined. The degree Celsius was selected from three names in use as the name of the unit of temperature. The symbol l (lowercase L) was adopted as symbol for litre. Both the comma and dot on a line are accepted as decimal marker symbols. Symbols for the stere and second changed. The universal return to the Long Scale numbering system was proposed but not adopted.|
|10th (1954)||The kelvin, standard atmosphere defined. Work on the International System of Units (metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, candela) began.|
|11th (1960)||The metre was redefined in terms of wavelengths of light. The Units hertz, lumen, lux, tesla were adopted. The new MKSA-based metric system given the official symbol SI for Système International d'Unités and launched as the "modernized metric system". The prefixes pico-, nano-, micro-, mega-, giga- and tera- were confirmed.|
|12th (1964)||The original definition of litre = 1 dm3 restored. The prefixes atto- and femto- were adopted.|
|13th (1967)||The second was redefined as duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom at a temperature of 0 K. The Degree Kelvin renamed kelvin and the candela redefined.|
|14th (1971)||A new SI base unit, the mole defined. The names pascal and siemens as units of pressure and electrical conductance were approved.|
|15th (1975)||The prefixes peta- and exa- were adopted. The units gray and becquerel were adopted as radiological units within SI.|
|16th (1979)||The candela and sievert were defined. Both l and L provisionally allowed as symbols for litre.|
|17th (1983)||The metre was redefined in terms of the speed of light.|
|18th (1987)||Conventional values were adopted for Josephson constant, KJ, and von Klitzing constant, RK, preparing the way for alternative definitions of the ampere and kilogram.|
|19th (1991)||New prefixes yocto-, zepto-, zetta- and yotta- were adopted.|
|20th (1995)||The SI supplementary units (radian and steradian) become derived units.|
|21st (1999)||A new SI derived unit, the katal = mole per second, was adopted as the SI unit of catalytic activity.|
|22nd (2003)||A comma or a dot on a line are reaffirmed as decimal marker symbols, and not as grouping symbols in order to facilitate reading; "numbers may be divided in groups of three in order to facilitate reading; neither dots nor commas are ever inserted in the spaces between groups".|
|23rd (2007)||The definition of the kelvin was clarified and thoughts about possible revision of certain base units discussed.|
|24th (2011)||Proposal to revise the definitions of the SI units, including redefining the kilogram in relation to the Planck constant were accepted in principle, subject to certain technical criteria having been met.|
|25th (2014)||Redefining the kilogram in relation to the Planck constant was discussed but not decided on. Progress towards realising the redefinition has been noted. However, it was concluded that the data did not yet appear to be sufficiently robust. Continued effort on improving the data has been encouraged, such that a resolution that would replace the current definition with the revised definition can be adopted at the 26th meeting.|
|26th (2018)||The kilogram, ampere, kelvin, and mole were redefined at this meeting, in terms of new permanently fixed values of the Planck constant, elementary charge, Boltzmann constant and Avogadro constant, respectively.|
- As of 2012, the only "economy" that was an associate member was CARICOM (Caribbean Community) – its membership comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Suriname, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. Jamaica, although also a member of CARICOM, is an associate of the CGPM in its own right.
- In the case of France, the French Foreign Minister
- Argentina, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, German Empire, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Norway, Switzerland, Ottoman Empire, United States and Venezuela.
- "BIPM - official reports". www.bipm.org. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- "BIPM - 25th meeting of the CGPM: 18-20 November 2014". www.bipm.org.
- "BIPM - 26th CGPM (2018)". www.bipm.org.
- "Convention du mètre" (PDF) (in French). Bureau international des poids et mesures (BIPM). Retrieved 22 March 20111875 text plus 1907 and 1921 amendments
- "The metre convention". Bureau international des poids et mesures (BIPM). Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- "General Conference on Weights and Measures". International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- "The BIPM headquarters". International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- "General Conference on Weights and Measures". Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. 2011. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- "Members of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM)" (PDF). Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- "The Metre Convention". La métrologie française. 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- Quinn, Terry (2012). From Artefacts to Atoms: The Bipm and the Search for Ultimate Measurement Standard. Oxford University Press. pp. 133–135. ISBN 978-0-19-530786-3.
- "Member States and Associates". Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
- Archived 3 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- "BIPM - Resolution 10 of the 22nd CGPM". Bipm.org. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "As of Today, the Fundamental Constants of Physics (c, h, e, k, NA) Are Finally… Constant!". Retrieved 16 November 2018.