World Metrology Day – 20 May

World Metrology Day – 20 May

World Metrology Day is observed on 20th May every year to commemorate the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875 by representatives of seventeen nations. The convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial, and societal applications.

The Metre Convention created the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), an intergovernmental organization under the authority of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) and the supervision of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM), which coordinates international metrology and the development of the metric system.

The theme for World Metrology Day 2021 is Measurement for Health. The theme is chosen to highlight the importance of health on the well-being of an individual.

Metre Convention

The main task facing the delegates at the conference of 1875 was the replacement of the existing meter and kilogram artifacts, which were held on the initiative of the French government and the establishment of the Organization managing the maintenance of standards around the world. The conference does not apply to other units.

The conference had undertones of Franco-German political maneuvering, especially considering the fact the French were humiliated by the Prussians during the war a few years ago. Although France lost control of the metric system, they ensured that it passed to international rather than German control and that the international headquarters are in Paris.

The Metre Convention, also known as the Treaty of the Metre, is an international treaty that was signed in Paris on 20 May 1875 by representatives of 17 nations. The treaty created the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), an intergovernmental organization under the authority of the General Conference on Weights and Measures and the supervision of the International Committee for Weights and Measures, that coordinates international metrology and the development of the metric system.

Apart from these 17 countries, Italy in 1876, Norway in 1882, Sweden in 1889, and Denmark in 1912 was 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.

The International Bureau of weights and measures (BIPM) standardized many of the measurements that we now take for granted and ushered in an unprecedented age of interoperability and international cooperation which, despite the war, economic deprivation, and pandemics in the intervening years, remains in place today. The Secretariat of the International Bureau of weights and measures or BIPM is in Saint-cloud, France.

The three organs of the BIPM are:

  • The headquarters and Secretariat of the International Bureau of weights and measures, which is in Saint-cloud, France. It employs around 70 people and has a right to conduct international prototype kilograms and hosts their formal meetings.

  • The International Committee of Weights and measures international Committee of weights and measures CIPM or de – supervision and control organ of the BIPM, that of the 18 known metrologists from 18 different Member States.

  • The General Conference on Weights and measures conference Generale de weights and Measures or CGPM – the plenary body of the International Bureau of weights and measures, which consists of delegates of all Contracting governments.

Those are the facts, and they are of absolute importance to quality assurance, metrology, and the industry overall. But the larger meaning of this event and World Metrology Day (which we celebrate on the 20th of May every year) goes beyond the technical aspects, important as they are.

What started in the City of Light nearly a century-and-a-half ago continues to bond international humanity together. In the age of COVID-19, when we are all socially distancing, understanding the nature of those bonds is perhaps more necessary now than ever before.

Suggested Read: Important Days In May

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.