symbol What is the CIE?

The CIE is the international organisation that is active in all professional matters related to light, lighting and image technology. Today, some 40 countries are affiliated with CIE. These countries span all continents and range from developed to developing countries. CIE forms an independent forum of international cooperation by more than 1000 committed professional experts with backgrounds ranging from researchers, specifiers, designers, consultants and architects, manufacturers, governmental and municipal institutions, energy suppliers to end-user representatives. CIE has about 135 Technical Committees for the detailed technical expert work and as a result more than 120 up-to-date Standards, Guides and Technical Reports are available.

Each year the many expert volunteers take care of updating existing reports and drafting new ones. Part of their input is based on results of expert workshops and symposia organized by CIE.

Amongst the early CIE achievements, still of great importance today, are the definition of the Standard Photometric Observer (1924), the basis for the physical photometric units (e.g. the lumen and the candela) and the trichromatic colorimetry system (1931). Today colorimetry once again is an important subject in CIE, for example in the context of image technology (Division 8) and in the context of the colour rendition effect of modern solid state light sources like LEDs and OLEDs (Division 1). Solid state lighting requires in general new guidance and standards for the measurement of their photometric quantities (Division 2). Today much emphasis is on lighting that helps to improve quality of life in both the exterior night time environment and the interior daytime environment (application Divisions 3, 4 and 5). Recent information on the effect that both daylight and artificial light has on our health is an important item of activity in both Divisions 3 and 6.

The CIE has been recognised by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) as an international standardising body. ISO Council Resolution 10/89 states that the CIE is the international standardising body on "fundamental aspects of metrology evaluation and application of light and colour including other radiation aspects in the optical wavelength range." A similar Memorandum of Agreement exists with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Visit the CIE website.


symbol Early History of the CIE

While the CIE as it is known today dates from 1913, its roots go back to 1900. At a meeting of the International Gas Congress held that year several participants agreed that one of the main problems facing the industry was the photometry of incandescent gas mantles. This resulted in the founding of the International Commission on Photometry. During the following years considerable progress was made on this and other problems concerned with measurements and standards. It was also realised that the "growing interests of the electrical industry had to be taken into account and that the scope of the work should be broadened to include all aspects of lighting.

By 1913 plans were formulated and draft statutes prepared for the establishment of a much enlarged organisation to be called the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage. Thus, the CIE came into being. Whilst the Statutes and method of operation have changed during the past 70 years, the CIE today is very similar to the organisation envisioned by its founders.

symbol Membership

There are currently 40 member countries of CIE. These countries participate through their National Committees which contribute the time and talents of their members to the objectives of the CIE.

symbol Structure

The success of an organisation such as the CIE depends upon the effectiveness of its structure. Each major subject of interest to the CIE is assigned to one of seven Divisions, each of which has terms of reference. The Divisions may appoint Technical Committees consisting of small groups of experts to work on single subjects. The intent is that the Technical Committees concentrate on one specific topic and render a report to the Division for further discussion and approval within a reasonable period of time after which the Committee is disbanded.


symbol Administration

The CIE is administered from a Central Bureau in Vienna, Austria. In addition there is a Board of Administration and a General Assembly. The former, which consists of the President and the other Officers, is responsible for the specific activities of technical affairs, liaison, publications and the organisation of quadrennial sessions. The General Assembly is the representative body, composed of the Presidents/Chairmen of the various National Committees. It is responsible for the general affairs of the CIE and gives guidance on the conduct of these to the Board of Administration. It also elects the Officers of the CIE.

symbol Sessions

A Session of the CIE is held every four years, with one of the member countries as host. At these meetings, usually of 10 days duration, papers are presented from many countries based on the work of the Technical Committees. Each Division meets to review its current work and to plan for the next four year term. All papers and reports given at the quadrennial session are published in a CIE Proceedings.

symbol Finance

To finance its work, the CIE prepares an annual budget. This budget covers administrative costs of the Central Bureau; publication expenses of reports and proceedings; expenses for necessary travel; and reserve funds to cover expenses of the next Session. Most of the income of the CIE is from subvention dues paid by the National Committees. The dues of each National Committee are based on the population and national income of the country using the United Nations units system.