La Rivista del Nuovo Cimento

Year 2019 - Issue 6 - June

The Metre Convention of 1875: A Commentary and new English edition

Authors: Terry Quinn
DOI: 10.1393/ncr/i2019-10160-6
pp. 261-300
Published online 1 July 2019
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Abstract: In my Commentary on the Metre Convention of 1875, modified by the second Convention in 1921, I examine its mission "to assure the international unification and perfection of the metric system" set out in the Preamble to the 1875 Convention and show how this continues to be its principal aim, with the metric system now being the International System of Units, SI. I examine the modern roles of the three organs of the Convention, the General Conference on Weights and Measures, the International Committee for Weights and Measures and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures --the permanent international scientific institute at Sevres. I discuss the interpretation of many of the key Articles of the Conventions, drawing upon decisions made by General Conferences. I discuss the recent interpretation of one of these by the International Committee. I draw attention to the 1960 draft of a proposed new Convention, much discussed at the 11th General Conference in 1960 but never adopted, which would have considerably eased recent financial difficulties by removing the requirement for unanimity in financial decisions. The new English edition of the Convention, in the Appendix, is the first complete and up to date English text to include both the Preamble to the 1875 Convention and the text of the second Convention of 1921.