Archives of Council and Committee of Council

Identity Statement [Top]

Reference code(s)

  • English: UNESCO-NS-CERN-1, CERN-1 to 2980 (ongoing), CERN-CC-117 to 2546
  • French: UNESCO-NS-CERN-1 to  2, CERN-1 to 2980 (ongoing), CERN-CC-117 to 2546
  • German: CERN-796 to 2336, (not all issues are translated)
  • Program meeting: CERN-CC-Pr-M-1 to 10 (All the CERN-reference codes also include CERN-CC)


Archives of Council and Committee of Council


January 1952 - Present

Level of description


Extent of the unit of description

7,300 Items (ongoing)

Context [Top]

Name of creator

The CERN Council and the CERN Committee of Council

Administrative history

In 1950, before CERN's foundation, the scientists involved in the project to create a European science laboratory requested UNESCO "to assist and encourage the formation and organization of regional centers and laboratories in order to increase and make more fruitful the international collaboration of scientists...". Motion at the UNESCO General Conference held in Florence, Italy, in June 1950. The delegates of the Member States first gathered with the help of UNESCO.

Discussions were pursued at a meeting under the auspices of the European Cultural Centre in Geneva, Switzerland in December 1950, and a study group set up to look at the ambitious recommendation to build a particle accelerator larger than any currently existing or under construction. A series of international technical meetings led to a firm plan, and the creation of the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire was agreed at a meeting in Paris in December 1951. This provisional CERN Council was voted more powers in 1952, including 'to prepare plans for a laboratory'.

Once the new laboratory was operational the word 'Council' was no longer appropriate; new names were chosen in English (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and French (l'Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire), but the old acronym CERN was also kept.

The Convention which established the new laboratory (which formally came into being in 1954) also established the CERN Council, comprising delegates of the Member States, as its governing body.

The Council holds ordinary sessions twice a year (in June and December) and, in between, delegates meet less formally in the Committee of Council to monitor progress and to discuss with the Director-General proposals to be submitted to Council.

Among other functions, it determines CERN's policy in scientific, technical and administrative matters, approves the programmes of activities, adopts the budgets and reviews expenditure.

In accordance with the Convention, the Council has also established a Scientific Policy Committee and a Finance Committee.

The Member States are:

  • Austria, 1959
  • Belgium, 1953
  • Bulgaria, 1999
  • Czech Republic, 1993
  • Denmark, 1953
  • Finland, 1991
  • France, 1953
  • Germany, 1953
  • Greece, 1953
  • Hungary, 1992
  • Italy, 1953
  • Netherlands, 1953
  • Norway, 1953
  • Poland, 1991
  • Portugal, 1986
  • Slovak Republic, 1993
  • Spain, 1961
  • Sweden, 1953
  • Switzerland, 1953
  • United Kingdom, 1953

There were 12 founder members of CERN in 1953; one of these, Yugoslavia, withdrew in 1961. CERN now has 20 Member States.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

CERN Council Secretariat

Content & Structure [Top]

Scope and content

The items of this collection were created for and from the sessions of the Council and Committee of Council. The usual documents are lists of participants, agenda, minutes, progress reports and drafts of all these documents. The collection also contains a large selection of reports concerning CERN's policy in scientific, technical and administrative matters.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Nothing was destroyed.


The collection is still open and accruals are received regularly, soon after they are produced.

System of arrangement

The original order has been preserved (numerical and chronological). The "Programme meeting" series is arranged by order of meetings between the year 1979 - 1980.

Conditions of access and use [Top]

Conditions governing access

See file level description and the CERN operational circular No 3: rules applicable to archival material and archiving at CERN. In general, records on any subject that are over 30 years old, and all records of a purely scientific nature, may be consulted.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is retained by CERN, no reproduction without permission.

Language / scripts of material

Most of the material is written in English, French and German.

Finding aids

Listed to item level in the CERN Archives Database.

Allied materials [Top]

Related units of description

The CERN Scientific Policy Committee collection (also available in English, French and German).

The CERN Finance Committee collection (also available in English, French and German).


The UNESCO documents are photocopies; originals are in the UNESCO Archive, Paris, France.

Description control [Top]

Archivist's note

Description prepared by Kieran Pavel.

Date(s) of description

Geneva, the 1st March 2000, Revised 2011.