Geneva, 18 March 2004. Nine of CERN1's 20 Member States today signed a new Protocol on privileges and immunities. This brings the Organization into line with other European intergovernmental organizations, such as the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory, which already enjoy international status in all of their Member States.
CERN already benefits from international status in its Host States. Switzerland accorded the Organization this status in 1955, and when the CERN site was extended across the Franco-Swiss border in 1965, France also recognised the Organization's international status. The new Protocol extends this recognition to all the Organization's Member States. This will significantly lighten CERN's administrative burden by streamlining transactions with institutes and companies in the Member States, and will also facilitate possible future enlargement.
As well as having an immediate practical benefit for the Organization, the Protocol also has an important symbolic value for the future. The Protocol is not only open to CERN Member States for signature, but also to other States collaborating with CERN. “Although this seems symbolic today”, explained CERN Director General Robert Aymar in an address to CERN's governing Council today, “I believe that in the future, with the increasing globalisation of particle physics, this will become a valuable tool in helping CERN remain a powerful force in science.”
Today's signature brings to eleven the number of Member States agreeing to grant full international status to CERN. All of the Organization's other Member States have set in motion procedures that will allow them to sign the Protocol in the near future.
“I would like to consider this Protocol as a gift, offered to CERN by its Member States on the occasion of our 50th anniversary,” said Dr Aymar.