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.
Facts and figures about International Geneva
International Geneva in numbers
- 41 international organizations, 44 in whole Switzerland
- 179 states represented
- About 750 Non-governmental organizations (NGO)
- About 34,000 international civil servants, diplomats and representatives of the civil society
- More than 4,400 annual visits of heads of state and government, ministers and other dignitaries
- More than 3,200 meetings annually with a total of 207,000 delegates from all around the world
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 embodies the significant international humanitarian commitment made by the Swiss Confederation and by Geneva itself.
Switzerland has been host to international organisations and conferences for more than 150 years. This role of host state is firmly rooted in Switzerland's tradition of humanitarianism and policy of making its good offices available. International activities take place in Basel, Bern, in the canton of Vaud and above all in Geneva. The city of Geneva itself is host to 38 international institutions, organizations, bodies as well as a secretariat established under a treaty, approximately 750 NGOs and the permanent representations of 179 member states, including Switzerland.
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.
Recognised areas 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
- the environment and sustainable development
Centre of global governance
New York, where the UN headquarters is situated, and Geneva are the world's main centres of multilateral diplomacy. Geneva is the most active centre of global governance, however, with over 3,000 meetings annually, bringing together approximately 207,000 delegates from all around the world. Some 4,400 prominent figures, including heads of state and government, ministers and other dignitaries, travel to Geneva each year.
Annual expenditure of several billion francs
The institutions that make up International Geneva have large budgets and the whole region's economy benefits greatly from that. In 2018 the international organisations' and institutions' expenditure amounted to CHF 6.3 billion.
Jobs within international cooperation
International Geneva gathers a multitude of jobs contributing to peace, rights and well-being worldwide. A short-films serie produced by the "Radio Télévision Suisse" (RTS) illustrates them.
Joint declaration by the host authorities of International Geneva
In 2019, to mark the 100th anniversary of multilateral work in Geneva, the Confederation and the Canton and City of Geneva have signed a joint declaration setting out a five-point joint action plan to strengthen Switzerland's role as a host state.
The authorities will jointly support the establishment and modernisation of the head offices of international organisations and NGOs. The three partners will speak with one voice and improve the exchange of information among themselves.
In the name of shared values and objectives, the three partners will support the work of the international organisations by promoting exchanges, cooperation and synergies between the various actors based in Geneva. Every effort will be made to facilitate transport in the region and to strengthen links with other actors (civil society, the private sector, universities).
In order to address the significant burden of Geneva's high cost of living for actors from less developed countries, the three partners will continue to support measures to facilitate the establishment in the city of permanent missions and NGOs that can contribute to the work of International Geneva.
Support for multilateralism requires better understanding of International Geneva's resources. To this end, joint promotional projects (exhibitions, media campaigns, etc.) will be developed in Switzerland and efforts to publicise the Swiss financial contribution to international organisations and NGOs active in cooperation will be stepped up.
Action in support of International Geneva must be long-term, anticipating international cooperation needs and providing appropriate responses.