Switzerland has a long tradition as host to international organizations and conferences. Widely known as "International Geneva", together with New York, Geneva is currently one of the two largest centres of international cooperation in the world. In terms of the number of international conferences and meetings held in the city every year, it is number one.
Switzerland’s host country policy focuses on the following five key areas:
Switzerland offers organizations based on its territory advantageous working and living conditions. The Confederation and those cantons that host international organizations and conferences cooperate closely in this field.
International officials and members of diplomatic missions enjoy the privileges and immunities prescribed by international law. At the same time, Switzerland makes every effort to ensure that an attractive range of office premises is available to these organizations. The Building Foundation for International Organisations (FIPOI) makes a major contribution to achieving this objective in the Greater Geneva area. FIPOI is a private foundation established in 1964 by the Swiss federal government and the Canton of Geneva.
The Geneva International Conference Centre (GICC) is regarded as an important instrument of Swiss host country policy. It belongs to FIPOI and is ideally located in the centre of Geneva’s international quarter. The Swiss Confederation contributes part of the GICC’s annual operating costs and places the Conference Centre at the disposal of selected clients free of charge.
The legal bases have been adapted to strengthen the position of Switzerland. The Federal Act on Privileges, Immunities, Exemptions and Financial Contribution Granted by Switzerland's Host State Act (HSA), together with the corresponding ordinance (Host State Ordinance – O-HSA), entered into force on 1 January 2008.