1. Fences at the entrance to the Palais des Nations
2. Entrance to the United Nations compound
Geneva has a long history as the site of international organizations. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is located here, and the high-minded but ill-fated League of Nations was founded here in November 1920.
After the Second World War, the League of Nations dissolved itself and handed over its assets, including the Palais des Nations in Geneva, to the newly formed United Nations. After the main headquarters of the new United Nations organization was 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 (UNOG) in 1966.
This office now has a staff of over 1600 people, making it the biggest United Nations duty station outside of headquarters in New York. Over 8,000 meetings are held here every year, making UNOG one of the busiest intergovernmental conference centers in the world.
The UN was built as the League of Nations, and the conducted tour pointed out both the architecture and the art, many of which had either political significance or an interesting donor. The most interesting was the room with two doors so representatives of arguing nations didn't have to have one enter the room ahead of the other!
Unable to go inside the building, or get anywhere near to it on our visit. Maybe we should have booked in advance or just tried the wrong entrance?
At least the anti landmine monument, the broken chair, was easily accessible.
A useless and old fashioned organization worldwide headquarters of the United Nations is located in Geneva. The building was built from 1929 to 1936 of the old "League of Nations". Officialy when you enter to the Geneva UN building, you are leaving the switzerland. Make sure you have your passport with you.This is also the retreat palace of many diplomats of the world.
Geneva is home to the UN and it is an incredibly diverse city. If you get the opportunity to wander around the city it is very nice and impressive. Over 40% of the people in Geneva are from foreign countries. It is home to most world organizations. The waterfront with the giant water spout is very nice and watching young locals play basketball is fun to watch or if you are me participate! I played with the locals and it was a blast! The UN building is interesting to see because it is strange to see all the foreign country flags flowing in the wind in a neutral country.
Towards the north of the city is the United Nations complex. It's about 25 minutes walk from the central bus/train station. Many of the UN organisation have their headquarters here namely International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UN High Commision for Refugees (UNHCR) etc.
The UNHCR has a memorial with an eternal flame on its front entrance in memory of its members killed in the many atrocities that still happen around the world.
The UN main building is quite impressive set in a sprawling ground with many sculptures.
The city's best attraction must be the UN building. From the very approach it promises to puzzle you. There is a huge chair in front of the entrance, which can be easily overlooked especially if you are driving. Entering this most sacred of institutions could be tricky since you have to be in a group and groups are not available 24/7. I had neither time nor patience for such formalities and took the security staff on. My flashing technique worked again and again - another proof that people are the same everywhere and mentality varies slightly.
Once inside you will feel the steely atmosphere and will probably have trouble to find a washroom. The park air is much better but there was a lingering aftertaste - the architecture looked rather Stalinist for a place that the "world" has pinned its hopes on.
The United Nations Office in Geneva is well worth a visit. Situated at the Avenue de la Paix, it is about a twenty minute walk from the city centre (downtown), although there are plenty of buses to get you there:
Numbers - 5, 8, 11, 14, F, V, Z. There is also a car park.
It has different opening times in the year:
April-October: 10am-12pm, 2pm-4pm everyday
July-August: 10am-5pm everday
November-March: 10am-12pm, 2pm-4pm Mon-Fri
It is closed in the last 15 days of December.
Entrance fee: CHF 8.50 or CHF 6.50/4.- reduced. Free for children under 6.
You must arrange in advance for a guided tour, and you can only visit if you are booked. There is wheelchair access, but you must advise them in advance also.
You will be taken around the buildings, and the guide will tell you about not only the building, it's art and architecture, but you will also be told about the structure of the UN. It is a very interesting tour, and well worth the effort to get there. The building is set in beautiful parkland, which you can also take a guided tour of, as it is a private garden.
You get a great view of the lake Geneva, the fountain, and even Mont Blanc on a clear day. The art housed in the building is all donated by nations around the world.
It is possible to take photographs inside the building, but filming is not permitted.
That is about the only strict rule - around the building you will see signs saying it is "preferred" that people do not smoke! The UN try their utmost to make everything fair, such as alternating seating arrangements for official meetings, so all nations get to sit at the front of the auditorium.
Also, if you visit, you will be very close to the Red Cross Headquarters if you want to visit there, too.
This is the actual entrance to the United Nations in Geneva. It is considered the largest and most active center for conferences in the world. Many historic negotiations have taken place here. It was build in 1936 as headquarters for the League of Nations and was taken over by the United Nations after World War II. It is open daily and tours are available from 10 am until noon, and then from 2 pm until 4 pm. In the summer during July and August tours start at 9 am and the last tour is at 6 pm. All tours are guided. There is very strict security. We had to provide identification before entering. We were required to leave our drivers license at the gate before we were allowed to enter.
This gate at the Palais des Nations looks like the entrance to the United Nations. It is actually a locked gate. You have to walk to your right and up a small hill past the Ariana Museum to reach the main entrance to the United Nations. This gate is located at the bus stop used to reach the United Nations and the International area.
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