The UN headquarters is a sacred place of global diplomacy. Geneva’s UN office serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General. As noted on its website, it is the biggest duty station outside the UN headquarters in New York. The UNOG (United Nations Office at Geneva) employs over 1,600 staff and holds 8,000 meetings a year.
Thinking big, I ask myself: “How might the UN look like inside? What could it be? What kind of person works for the United Nations?”
I want know everything.
United Nations Office at Geneva
Vladimir holds the position of Head of the Communications and Investor Relations Department at Severstal, a huge Russian company specialized in steel-production. On 27-29 November, as part of a Russian delegation, he visited Geneva to participate in the UN Forum for Business & Human rights, which brought together 2,000 government officials and civil servants, businessmen, and representatives from the legal sector and NGOs. Luckily, he agreed to answer SUISSEPIC’s childish questions and shared some tips about Geneva.
The UN arose from the foundations of another organization – the League of Nations, which was established after the First World War. The building in Geneva was built in the 1930s as a unique project. It had a very solid structure overlooking Lake Geneva. The atmosphere inside is calm, solid and very multicultural, as it should be. Some officials wear African or Asian clothing. A lot of young people want to be involved in UN affairs, such as preserving international peace and security, promoting disarmament and human rights, eradicating poverty, and implementing sustainable development practices.
Russian businessmen were honored to present sustainable development and social investments practices that have been implemented in various regions of Russia. Vladimir proudly said that it was the first time that a special panel section of Russian business had been arranged during the UN Forum for Business & Human rights. Realizing the importance of the event, the Russian delegation brought with them an inclusive stage performance of Russian children with Down’s syndrome. For most of them, that trip to Geneva was a unique chance to travel and see another part of the world.
Inside the UN building is also authentic. The UN’s library could be called a book treasury. You can find great folios and huge historical tomes, but all of that takes a back seat once you get into a Book cabinet. Just imagine: in the era of total digitalization you still need to open a special box on a special shelf in a special wardrobe in order to find a proper indicator for the book you are looking for. Incredible!
They had lunch in the UN canteen. I was wondering if there were any differences in what those high-level officials ate, compared to what we normally serve to ourselves. Vladimir smiles, saying: “No difference at all. However you can see peacocks from the window”.
Talking about Geneva, we can easily say that the employees of the UN and other international organizations such as the WTO, the Red Cross, etc. form an integral part of the city’s population. And that makes this city unique.
“With its smooth beauty, calm atmosphere, great number of parks and wonderful lake shore, Geneva attracts people to working in a bank or practising law on behalf of private clients”, Vladimir shares his emotions. “However all that is surprisingly mixed-up with a Red Light district in Paquis. Ski resorts such as Chamonix, Gstaad and Champery are also not far, which is really important when thinking about the upcoming ski season”.
What to do to enjoy Geneva?
- Watch the launch of the Jet d’Eau (every morning at 9h00)
- Visit the Patek Philippe Museum
- Listen to live jazz at the Leopard Room Bar & Lounge
Jet d’Eau (Quai Gustave-Ador, 1207 Genève)
Patek Philippe Museum (Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 7, 1205)
The Leopard Room Bar & Lounge (Hotel d’Angleterre, Quai du Mont-Blanc 17, 1201 Genève)