International Bureau of Weights and Measures

Saint-Cloud French language Metre Convention

International Bureau of Weights and Measures
Metric seal.svg
Metre Convention Signatories.svg
Metre Convention signatories
Formation20 May 1875; 145 years ago (1875-05-20)
Region served
Official language
French and English
Martin Milton

Coordinates: 48°49′45.55″N 2°13′12.64″E / 48.8293194°N 2.2201778°E / 48.8293194; 2.2201778 The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (French: Bureau international des poids et mesures) is an intergovernmental organisation[1] [2] that was established by the Metre Convention, through which member states act together on matters related to measurement science and measurement standards (i.e. the International System of Units). The organisation is commonly referred to by its French initialism, BIPM. The BIPM's secretariat and formal meetings are housed in the organisation's headquarters in Saint-Cloud, France.

The BIPM is supervised by the International Committee for Weights and Measures (French: Comité international des poids et mesures, CIPM), a committee of eighteen members that meet normally biannually[clarification needed], which is in turn overseen by the General Conference on Weights and Measures (French: Conférence générale des poids et mesures, CGPM) that meets in Paris usually once every four years, consisting of delegates of the governments of the Member States and observers from the Associates of the CGPM. These organs are also commonly referred to by their French initialisms.


The BIPM was created on 20 May 1875, following the signing of the Metre Convention, a treaty among 59 Member States (as of November 2018).[3]

It is based at the Pavillon de Breteuil in Saint-Cloud, France, a 4.35 ha (10.7-acre) site (originally 2.52 ha or 6.2 acres)[4] granted to the Bureau by the French Government in 1876. Since 1969 the site of the Pavillon de Breteuil is considered international territory and the BIPM has all the rights and privileges accorded to an intergovernmental organisation.[5] The status was further clarified by the French decree No 70-820 of 9 September 1970.[4]


The BIPM has the mandate to provide the basis for a single, coherent system of measurements throughout the world, traceable to the International System of Units (SI). This task takes many forms, from direct dissemination of units to coordination through international comparisons of national measurement standards (as in electricity and ionising radiation).

Following consultation, a draft version of the BIPM Work Programme is presented at each meeting of the General Conference for consideration with the BIPM dotation. The final programme of work is determined by the CIPM in accordance with the dotation agreed by the CGPM.

Currently, main work of the BIPM include:[6]

The BIPM has an important role in maintaining accurate worldwide time of day. It combines, analyses, and averages the official atomic time standards of member nations around the world to create a single, official Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).[7]


Since its establishment, the directors of the BIPM have been:[8][9]

Name Country Mandate Notes
Gilbert Govi Italy 1875–1877
J. Pernet Switzerland 1877–1879 Acting director
Ole Jacob Broch Norway 1879–1889
J.-René Benoît France 1889–1915
Charles Édouard Guillaume Switzerland 1915–1936
Albert Pérard France 1936–1951
Charles Volet Switzerland 1951–1961
Jean Terrien France 1962–1977
Pierre Giacomo France 1978–1988
Terry J. Quinn United Kingdom 1988–2003 Honorary director
Andrew J. Wallard United Kingdom 2004–2010 Honorary director
Michael Kühne Germany 2011–2012
Martin J. T. Milton United Kingdom 2013–present

See also


  1. ^ Pellet, Alain (2009). Droit international public. LGDJ. p. 574. ISBN 978-2-275-02390-8.
  2. ^ Schermers, Henry G. (2018). International Institutional Law. Brill. pp. 302–303. ISBN 978-90-04-38165-0.
  3. ^ "Brief history of the SI". BIPM. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b Page, Chester H; Vigoureux, Paul, eds. (20 May 1975). The International Bureau of Weights and Measures 1875–1975: NBS Special Publication 420. Washington, D.C.: National Bureau of Standards. pp. 26–27.
  5. ^ "History of the Pavillon de Breteuil". BIPM. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  6. ^ "BIPM: Our work programme". BIPM. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Time Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)". BIPM. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Directors of the BIPM since 1875". Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  9. ^ "NPL Fellow, Dr Martin Milton , is new Director at foundation of world's measurement system". QMT News. Quality Manufacturing Today. August 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2020.