Bureau International des Poids et Mesures
The International System of Units (SI)
Organisation Intergouvernementale de la Convention du Mètre
Note on the use of the English text
To make its work more widely accessible, the International Committee for Weights and Measures has decided to publish an English version of its reports. Readers should note that the official record is always that of the French text. This must be used when an authoritative reference is required or when there is doubt about the interpretation of the text. Translations, complete or partial, of this brochure (or of its earlier editions) have been published in various languages, notably in Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, English, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. The ISO and numerous countries have also published standards and guides to the use of SI units.
The BIPM and the Metre Convention
The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) was set up by the Metre Convention signed in Paris on 20 May 1875 by seventeen States during the final session of the diplomatic Conference of the Metre. This Convention was amended in 1921. The BIPM has its headquarters near Paris, in the grounds (43 520 m2) of the Pavillon de Breteuil (Parc de Saint-Cloud) placed at its disposal by the French Government; its upkeep is financed jointly by the Member States of the Metre Convention. The task of the BIPM is to ensure worldwide unification of measurements; its function is thus to: • • • • establish fundamental standards and scales for the measurement of the principal physical quantities and maintain the international prototypes; carry out comparisons of national and international standards; ensure the coordination of corresponding measurement techniques; carry out and coordinate measurements of the fundamental physical constants relevant to these activities.
The BIPM operates under the exclusive supervision of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) which itself comes under the authority of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) and reports to it on the work accomplished by the BIPM. Delegates from all Member States of the Metre Convention attend the General Conference which, at present, meets every four years. The function of these meetings is to: • discuss and initiate the arrangements required to ensure the propagation and improvement of the International System of Units (SI), which is the modern form of the metric system; confirm the results of new fundamental metrological determinations and various scientific resolutions of international scope; take all major decisions concerning the finance, organization and development of the BIPM.
As of 31 December 2005, fifty-one States were members of this Convention: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Rep. of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (Dem. People's Rep. of), Korea (Rep. of), Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Twenty States and Economies were Associates of the General Conference: Belarus, CARICOM, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Estonia, Hong Kong (China), Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Panama, Philippines, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Viet Nam.
The CIPM has eighteen members each from a different State: at present, it meets every year. The officers of this committee present an annual report on the administrative and financial position of the BIPM to the Governments of the Member States of...