Units of Measurement

Volume 122 of the series Springer Series in Materials Science pp 47-65


Metre Convention and Evolution of Base Units

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On 20 May 1875, the “Metre Convention”, a diplomatic treaty between 17 nations, was signed in Paris. The Metre Convention gave authority to the General Conference onWeights and Measures (Conférence Générale des Poids et des Mesures [CGPM]) and the International Committee for Weights and Measures (Comité International des Poids et des Mesures [CIPM]) to set up the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (Bureau International des Poids et des Mesures [BIPM]) and to act in the matters related to units of measurement. Apart from these 17 countries, Italy in 1876, Norway in 1882, Sweden in 1889 and Denmark in 1912 were among the first few countries that joined the treaty later. This convention was amended in 1921.

India signed the “Metre Convention Treaty” in 1957 after the Standards of Weights and Measures Act of 1956 was enacted by the Parliament. At present there are 51 member countries of the Treaty. In addition, 20 countries are associates of the CGPM.

It may be noted that the foundation of the metric system in relation to mass and length was established by the deposition of two platinum standards representing “metre” and “kilogram” on 22 June 1799 in Paris with the French Archives. Following this, some European countries like the Netherlands in 1820, France in 1837 and Spain in 1860 started using metre and kilogram even before signing the “Metre Convention”.