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ICO Statutes

New statutes were adopted in 1999; the motivation was to obtain a good representation of the whole optical community within ICO through the addition of the new membership category "International Organisation Member". The European Optical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineer's Laser and Electro-Optic Society, the Optical Society of America, and SPIE – the International Society for Optical Engineering were accepted for membership in the new category in 1999.

Original statutes adopted at Delft, 1948. Amended at Cambridge - 1956, Santa Monica - 1972, Sapporo - 1984, Garmisch Partenkirchen - 1990, Taejon- 1996. 

New version adopted by ICO General Meeting, San Francisco, August 2, 1999. Approved by IUPAP, October 1999. Amended by the ICO-21 General Assembly, Sidney, Australia, July 2008.

Article 1 ammended at the ICO-23 General Meeting, Santiago de Compostela, August 2014.

New version adopted by the ICO Bureau to apply for being full member ot the International Science Council and to be voted at the ICO General Meeting, Dresden, September 6, 2022.

Article 1 Objective

The objective of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) is to contribute, on an international basis, to the progress of the science of optics and photonics and their applications. It emphasises the unity of the crossdisciplinary field of optics.

Optics and photonics are defined as the fields of science and engineering encompassing the physical phenomena and technologies associated with the generation, transmission, manipulation, detection, and utilisation of light. It extends on both sides of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum as far as the same concepts apply.

In particular, the ICO promotes international cooperation and facilitates the rapid exchange of information, by encouraging and furthering the organisation, on an international basis, of scientific meetings and summer schools. It emphasises actions for the education and training in optics and photonics internationally. It undertakes special actions for the development of optics and photonics in regions where particular support is needed. It strives to improve the recognition of optics and photonics as fields of science with a significant impact on economy. It works also for the promotion of international agreements on nomenclature, units, symbols and standards.

Article 2 Affiliation

The International Commission for Optics is an Affiliated Member of the International Science Council

Article 3 Membership

The Commission has three categories of Members.

3a) Territorial Committee Members, that represent identified optics communities in a set of non overlapping geographical areas. A Territorial Committee Member should be listed under a name that avoids any misunderstanding about the area represented. The word "territory" does not imply any political position on the part of the Commission, which seeks to assist scientists in optics everywhere in the world to coperate on an international level. Each Territorial Committee should receive endorsement of the appropriate authority representing science in its territory, such as an Academy of Science.

3b) International Organisation members. Such members are membership organisations active in the field of Optics on an international level.

3c) The Commission may also accept organisations active in optics as Associate Members. Associate Members pay no dues and have no voting privileges.

Application for all categories of membership shall be made to the Secretary of the Commission and submitted to the next General Meeting for approval. Applications in the Territorial Committee Member and Associate Member categories may be approved by the Bureau, subject to ratification at the next General Meeting of the Commission.

Article 4 Shares and votes

Each member of ICO has a specified number of shares, which determines its financial contribution as well as its number of votes at the General Meeting.

4a) The number of votes Nv1, which is also the maximum number of voting delegates of the Territorial Committee Member, is determined according to a scale, which presently reads as follows:


Category number of shares number of official delegates and votes
I 1 1
II 2 or 3 2
III 4 to 6 3
IV 7 to 9 4
V 10 to15 5
VI Over 15 6


4b) The number of shares Ns2 of an International Organisation Member is determined in agreement with ICO during the Membership admission procedure; it may be changed following the same procedures as for membership admission. The International Organisation Members are represented by one voting representative carrying a number of votes Nv2 proportional to the number of shares Ns2 of the member determined in such a way that the total number of votes of all International Organisation Members cannot exceed that of all Territorial Committee Members. The exact method for determining Nv2 is included in the Rules and Codes of Practice.

Article 5 The Bureau

The Bureau of ICO consists of the following.

•the Executive Committee, consisting of the President, the immediate Past-President, the Secretary, the Associate Secretary and the Treasurer. All members of the Executive Committee, except for the Immediate Past-President, are elected by ICO at the General Meeting.

•The IUPAP representative appointed by the Executive Council of IUPAP under Article 7b of the statutes of the Union.

•The other Bureau members, who are traditionally known as Vice-Presidents. Eight Vice-Presidents (at least two of whom are from industry) are elected at the General Meeting by the Territorial Committee Members; in addition, also at the General Meeting, every International Organisation Member appoints one Vice-President up to the limit of eight; if there are more than eight International Organisation Members, eight Vice-Presidents are elected at the General Meeting by the International Organisation Members.

The Bureau is responsible for the conduct of the Commission's business between General Meetings. The term of office of the Bureau is three years from October 1st in the year of the election.

The President will be elected for a term of 3 years, normally after having served 3 years as a Bureau Member. In the event the President is unable to continue his/her duties for the elected term, the Past-President (or in case he/she is unable, the Secretary) will act as interim President, or, with the concurrence of the majority of the Bureau, will appoint one of the Bureau Members as interim President.

The Secretary, Associate Secretary and Treasurer will be elected for a term of three years and will be eligible for a second and usually final term of three more years. If either is unable to continue his/her duties for the elected term, the President will, with the concurrence of the majority of the Bureau, appoint a substitute from among the current Bureau Members.

Other Bureau Members will be elected for 3 years and will be eligible for not more than one further term of three years, except as described in the above two paragraphs.

The Bureau may fill vacancies occurring in its membership during the interval period between General Meetings, except for the position of Immediate Past President.

Article 6 Finance

In addition to money that may be granted, the International Commission for Optics may possess funds of its own consisting of subscriptions from the Members and special donations or grants. Each member pays a number of shares. Dues are payable on the first day of each year. Certain specific projects may be financed independently of the general resources of the Commission. The unit subscription per share is decided by the General Meeting.

Article 7 Withdrawal and Resignation

A member whose subscription is more than six years in arrears is to be regarded as having withdrawn. Any Member which has resigned is liable for the unpaid subscriptions up to the end of the year of resignation. Any Member ceasing to belong to the Commission forfeits its rights to ICO assets.

Article 8 General Meeting

The ICO is governed by its General Meeting, which consists of the Bureau (non voting) and the official delegates appointed by the Members.

The General Meeting of ICO is held every third year. The following business will be carried out at each of these General Meetings:

(a) election of the Bureau;

(b) examination of a Financial Statement presented by the Bureau;

(c)agreement on a provisional budget for future years;

(d)discussion of questions submitted by the ICO Members or the Bureau.

Any Member, including Associate Members, as well as the ICO President can invite delegates at the General Meeting with no restriction of number. The number of voting delegates is restricted as per article 4.

The President may, with the approval of the Bureau, convene an Extraordinary General Meeting, and shall call such Meetings upon the request of one-third of all ICO Members.

The Draft Agenda for the General Meeting is circulated by the Secretary at least three months before the opening of the General Meeting. Subjects not on the Draft Agenda may be added at the Meeting with the consent of a single majority of the votes of Members represented at the Meeting.

A Member who is unable to send a delegate at a given General Meeting but wishes to vote on appropriate matters appearing on the Agenda may send its vote in writing to the President. 

Alternately, it may give a proxy to another member of the same category. To be valid, votes made in writing and proxies must be received prior to the General Meeting.

Article 9 Other Meetings

The International Commission for Optics may sponsor or co-sponsor international conferences and give financial support (grants or guarantees), as a grant to organising committees or as a travelling grant directly to participants.

Article 10 Relation with the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics

The relation with the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics is ruled by a separate Memorandum of Understanding.

Article 11 Duration of the Commission

The life of the International Commission for Optics is not limited. The dissolution of the Commission may be decided by a majority of two-thirds of the votes of the Members voting at a General Meeting. In this event, the assets of ICO will be allocated by the General Meeting to one or more not-profit organisations of closely similar purposes serving the optical sciences.

Article 12 Alterations to the Statutes

Alterations in the Statutes may be proposed by the Bureau of the Commission or by one of the members. Such proposals must be received by the Secretary of the Commission at least three months before the date of the General Meeting.

Amendments or modifications may be adopted only at a General Meeting by a two-thirds majority of the Members taking part in the vote.

Article 13 Rules and Codes of Practice

Rules for the conduct of business determine procedures for dealing with matters not specifically laid down in these Statutes. They are meant to give guidance in general terms to the Bureau and to the Members in matters such as, for example, the provision of grants from the funds of the International Commission for Optics for Symposia and Schools.

The rules and codes of practice may not contravene the Statutes of the ICO. They are proposed by the Bureau. The adoption, modification, or abolition of any rule or code of practice shall require either a majority of two-thirds of the members voting at a General Meeting of the Commission, or alternatively a majority of two-thirds of the total number of votes of all Members in a postal vote on a proposal unanimously approved by the Bureau.