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Governance of the BIPM

The BIPM was created in 1875 by the signature of an international treaty known as the Metre Convention, aimed at facilitating the standardization of measurements around the world.


  • The First Article (1875) of the Metre Convention provides that: "[t]he High Contracting Parties undertake to create and maintain, at their common expense, a scientific and permanent International Bureau of Weights and Measures with its headquarters in Paris";
  • Article 3 (1875) of the Metre Convention provides that "[t]he International Bureau shall operate under the exclusive direction and supervision of an International Committee for Weights and Measures, itself placed under the authority of a General Conference on Weights and Measures, consisting of the delegates of all contracting Governments";
  • Articles 6 (1875) and 7 (1921) of the Metre Convention charge the BIPM with a number of specific tasks.


The Metre Convention thus created an international organization – the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) – with three organs:

  • the CGPM provides a forum for representative of Member States;
  • the CIPM is an advisory committee of metrologists of high standing;
  • the International Bureau is a permanent institute that provides the necessary secretarial and laboratory facilities to support the CGPM and CIPM.

If we compare the structure to that of a modern corporation, the CGPM would be the shareholders' meeting, the CIPM the board of directors, and the International Bureau the headquarters.


In fact the name "BIPM" is now often used to refer to the "headquarters" (the institute), as well as the whole international organization created by the Treaty.