Geneva as Centre for Multilateral Diplomacy

ONCE UPON A TIME: The city of Geneva has always served a purpose. In the pre-Roman times, it was a sight of a bridge over the Rhone at the point where the river flows out of Lake Leman for the Mediterranean Sea. In the middle ages, Geneva was a sight of bustling fairs. The Renaissance witnessed Geneva taking in Protestant refugees with their arts, crafts, skill and capital. Today, this town of river crossing has evolved into an internationalcentre, where for over a century, people have developed and negotiate projects aimed at promoting international welfare and cooperation.





Call for Internationalism Geneva’s rendezvous with international affairs began in 1863 when a small group of Genevois led by Jean Henri Dunant launched the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which led to the first international humanitarian law treaty, the Geneva Convention of 1864. In 1872, the Alabama arbitration saw dispute settlement between two nations through international mediation for the first time.








LEAGUE OF NATIONS: LEAGUE OF NATIONS- In the 20th century, the city gained momentum as a platform for dialogue and cooperation when the winning states of World War I decided to establish the League of Nations. On 15 November, 1920 an enthusiastic crowd welcomed the delegates of the First Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva. Having installed its Secretariat in the Palais Wilson, the League of Nations made a durable mark on the urban landscape of Geneva by constructing the Palais des Nations in which the League was installed in 1936. The first years of existence of the League of Nations were marked by great successes. In accordance with the provisions of the Pact, several international disagreements–between Sweden and Finland, and between Greece and Bulgaria – were resolved peacefully. The Locarno Agreements signed in October 1925, which marked the beginnings of a Franco-German reconciliation, were entrusted to the League.



The ultimate failure, politically, of the mission of collective security of the League of Nations must nevertheless not make one overlook its success in, what was from the beginning to be a secondary aspect of its objectives: international technical cooperation. Afterthe League of Nations was dissolved, the United Nations sought to continue many of the operations already in place. For example, economic activities were transferred to the new Economic and Social Council; the Health Organization evolved into the World Health Organization (WHO); the Nutrition Committee became the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the Committee of Intellectual Cooperation became the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the Permanent Mandates Commission was replaced by the Trusteeship Council; and the work of the Nansen Office was continued by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The efforts of the League of Nations did not however succeed in removing the major obstacles to peace which occurred in the early ‘30s and to finish, it was powerless in the face of the Second World War. By the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, many had abandoned the League of Nations and its unfulfilled promise of collective security, and had instead returned to the traditional system of defensive alliances and power blocs. At the end of the World War II, 43 States were still Members of the League of Nations, though for all intents and purposes it had ceased to exist The final act of transfer was signed in Geneva on 18 April 1946 by Sean Lester, the last Secretary-General of the League of Nations, and Wlodzimierz Moderow, the representative of the United Nations.Thus, having handed over all of its assets to the United Nations, and having granted the new Secretariat full control of its Library and archives, the 43 Members attending this last Assembly declared by unanimous vote that as of 20 April 1946, the League of Nations would cease to exist.



UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA: UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA – Although the League never reached its 20th birthday, its nineteen years of life established such a necessary form of international relations that, after the World War II, it led to a similar organization of nations- UNITED NATIONS, in which the shortcomings of the first attempt had been corrected. And thus Geneva housed the international community’s main bodies of social, technical and scientific and economic cooperation. While the headquarters of the new Organization has since been established in New York, the European Office of the United Nations was created in the Palais des Nations, becoming the United Nations Office at Geneva in 1966.



Public Health- Public Health- The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is concerned with inter- national public health. Established on 7 April 1948 WHO succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. The constitution of the World Health Organization, signed by all 61 countries of the United Nations by 22 July 1946 is the first specialised agency of the United Nations to which every member subscribed. Since its creation, it has been responsible for playing a leading role in the eradication of smallpox. WHO is responsible for the World Health Report, a leading international publication on health, the worldwide World Health Survey, and World Health Day (7th-April of every Year).





Information technology-Information technology- French physicist Louis de Broglie put forward the first official proposal for the creation of a European laboratory at the European Cultural Conference, which opened in Lausanne on 9 December 1949. At an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951, the first resolution concerning the establishment of a European Council for Nuclear Research, was adopted. Two months later, 11 countries signed an agreement establishing the provisional council – the acronym CERN ("Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire") was born. CERN's main area of research is particle physics – the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist working at the (CERN) developed the concept of hypertext, to automatically share information via computer which gave birth to the World Wide Web.





Refugees- Established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.





Intellectual property -Established in 1967, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system.It administers 26 treaties and provides technical assistance to its member states, helping them to enact appropriate and suitable intellectual laws and to establish and improve the administrative infrastructure for their application.The predecessor to WIPO was the BIRPI (Bureaux Internationaux Réunis pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle), which had been established in 1893 to administer the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.





Labour -Established as an agency of the League of Nations following the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, the International Labour Organizationis responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labour standards. Unlike other United Nations specialized agencies, the International Labour Organization has a tripartite governing structure — representing governments, employers and workers (usually with a ratio of 2:1:1).





Environment -The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established as a scientific intergovernmental body in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio- economic impacts. At regular intervals, it prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports containing scientific, technical and socio-economic information to advance the understanding of human induced climate change and proposes concrete solutions to mitigate this phenomenon and address its impacts.


Standardization- Founded in 1906, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is the world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These are known collectively as “electrotechnology”. The IEC also administers three global Conformity Assessment Systems, IECEE, IECEx and IECQ for testing, certification and approval of equipment, systems and components to its International Standards.



Human Rights- -The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is one of the most prominent institutions of the United Nations. The UNHRC, established in 2006 is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR), and is a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly. The General Assembly established the UNHRC by adopting a resolution 60/251 on 15 March 2006, in order to replace the previous CHR, which had been heavily criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members. The council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and engages the United Nations' Special Procedures.


Humanitarian Aid - United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) formed in December 1991 by General Assembly Resolution 46/182 was designed to strengthen the UN's response to complex emergencies and natural disasters by creating the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), and replacing the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator, which had been formed in 1972. In 1998, due to reorganisation, DHA merged into the OCHA and was designed to be the UN focal point on major disasters. Its mandate was expanded to also include the coordination of humanitarian response, policy development and humanitarian advocacy. OCHA is therefore an inter-agency body, serving UN agencies and NGOs in the humanitarian domain.



Trade -World Trade Organization officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. The World Trade Organization (WTO) provides a forum for. negotiating agreements aimed at reducing obstacles to international trade and ensuring a level playing field for all, thus contributing to economic growth and development. The WTO also provides a legal and institutional framework for the implementation and monitoring of these agreements, as well as for settling disputes arising from their interpretation and application





Peace security and Disarmament The Conference on Disarmament (CD), established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, was a result of the first Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly held in 1978.It succeeded other Geneva-based negotiating fora, which include the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1960), the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1962-68), and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (1969-78). The CD and its predecessors have negotiated such major multilateral arms limitation and disarmament agreements as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques, the seabed treaties, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.





Telecommunications - International Telecommunication Union (ITU), originally founded as the International Telegraph Union in 1865, is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies. The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and assists in the development and coordination of worldwide technical standards. The ITU is active in areas including broadband Internet, latest-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology, convergence in fixed-mobile phone, Internet access, data, voice, TV broadcasting, and next-generation networks.





The South Centre is a Geneva based, intergovernmental organization of 51 developing countries which serves as a think tank of the South and is intended to be an instrument to promote South-South cooperation, south solidarity and south consciousness. The south Commission (precursor of South Centre) was established in 1987 under the Chairmanship of former President of Tanzania Julius K. Nyerere. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Secretary General of the South Commission (1987-1990) which drew the blueprint and the agenda of the South Centre, leading to the establishment of the Centre.





Established in 1964, UNCTAD promotes the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. UNCTAD has progressively evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work aims to help shape current policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.






"The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is making concrete contributions to developing the capacities oftens of thousands of people around the world. Since its inception in 1965, UNITAR has built sustainable partnerships acquiring unique expertise and accumulating experience and knowledge to fulfil its mandate. These accomplishments have enabled UNITAR to respond to the growing demand from UN Member States for training for capacity development in the fields of Environment; Peace, Security and Diplomacy; and Governance."





International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading Intergovernmental organisation in the field of migration working closely withIntergovernmental, Governmental and non-Governmental partners. It was established in 1951. IOM has 151 countries. IOM’s principle task is to management of migration for the Member-States and12Observer ensure humane and orderly benefit of migrants and societies.




The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is an initiative of the United Nations Member States to address the migration and development interconnections in practical and action-oriented ways. It is an informal, non-binding, voluntary and government-led process that marks the culmination of more than a decade of international dialogue on the growing importance of the linkages between migration and development. The Global Commission onInternational Migration (GCIM) established on the initiative of the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2003, presented its report and recommendations to the UNGA in 2005.. The UN General Assembly held on 14-15 September, 2006 a High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development where the UN Secretary General and his Special Representative on International Migration and Development proposed the creation of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).




We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large and small....And for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours...have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.
~Preamble, Charter of the United Nations~



India and United Nations Organisations in Geneva and other International Organisations
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