Science for peace

CERN’s convention states: “The Organization shall have no concern with work for military requirements and the results of its experimental and theoretical work shall be published or otherwise made generally available.”


A short history of CERN (Video: CERN)

What's in a name?

The sixth session of the CERN Council took place in Paris, 29 June - 1 July 1953. It was here that the Convention establishing the Organization was signed, subject to ratification, by 12 States. (Image: CERN)

At an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951, the first resolution concerning the establishment of a European Council for Nuclear Research (in French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) was adopted.

Two months later, an agreement was signed establishing the provisional Council – the acronym CERN was born.

This agreement gave the Council 18 months to produce the formal CERN Convention. 

Today, our understanding of matter goes much deeper than the nucleus, and CERN's main area of research is particle physics. Because of this, the laboratory operated by CERN is often referred to as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.


And so it begins


On 10 June 1955, CERN Director-General, Felix Bloch, laid the foundation stone on the Laboratory site, watched by Max Petitpierre, the President of the Swiss Confederation. (Image: CERN)


In June 1953, the final draft of the CERN Convention was agreed upon and signed by 12 new Member States. It laid out the ways Member States would contribute to CERN's budget, as well as early indications of CERN's ethos and organisation -- from adopting a policy of open access, to CERN's internal structure being divided into Directorates (today, CERN's size means that these Directorates are sub-divided into departments and then, in turn, groups and sections).

Signing the convention led to a huge swell in momentum, and very quickly staff were hired, architects were brought in and plans were drawn up.

In July 1955, Felix Bloch, CERN's Director-General, laid the first foundation stone.

Since then, CERN has more than fulfilled the early plans of those few optimistic, scientists who dreamt of creating an international laboratory to make great strides in fundamental research and stretch the limits of our technology and imaginations.

Since CERN began in 1954, we have made many significant breakthroughs, both in particle physics (such as our early discovery of neutral currents) and technologies that have helped improve our day-to-day lives (including the World Wide Web).  

Since CERN began, fundamental physics has been our core business. Our work here will help to uncover what the universe is made of and how it works.