International Geneva

The city of Geneva has a long tradition of hosting international organisations. For that reason, reference is made to "International Geneva". This acknowledges not only its pivotal role in terms of cooperation but also its position at the forefront of multilateral diplomacy.

Since the founding of the Red Cross in 1863, International Geneva has evolved considerably into what is now one of the foremost centres of global governance. It thus symbolises the significant international humanitarian commitment made by the Swiss Confederation and by Geneva itself.

Core values

International Geneva – or the international interests of Switzerland through Geneva – is a valuable instrument and most significant platform for Swiss foreign policy. Through its long-standing humanitarian tradition, it symbolises the core values that the vast majority of the Swiss population recognise as their own.

Finally, International Geneva is an essential component of Geneva's identity and acts as a major economic driver for the whole of the Lake Geneva region.

Centre of expertise

The policy of actively welcoming and continually adapting to the needs of international organisations, representations of their respective member states and of civil society has made Geneva – and hence also Switzerland – a recognised centre of expertise in the following areas:

  • peace, security and disarmament
  • humanitarian action and humanitarian law, human rights and migration
  • labour, economics, trade, science and telecommunications 
  • health 
  • the environment and sustainable development 

Centre of multilateral diplomacy

New York – home to the UN's headquarters – and Geneva are the two most important centres of global governance. Geneva forms the most active centre of multilateral diplomacy worldwide, with more than 2,700 meetings taking place there annually, bringing together around 200,000 delegates from five continents.

More than 170 states are represented in Geneva by a mission/permanent representation to the United Nations Office and the other international organisations in Geneva, the World Trade Organisation and/or the Conference on Disarmament.

A number of organisations based outside Switzerland which have UN observer status also have a permanent delegation representing them in Geneva. This is the case, for example, with the International Organisation of La Francophonie, the League of Arab States and the Council of Europe.

Around 250 NGOs

Switzerland currently hosts some thirty international organisations – in Geneva, Bern, Basel, Gland and Lausanne – and around 250 non-governmental organisations that have consultative status with the UN.

Source: Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office (UNOG) and to the other international organisations in Geneva