Global Affairs

flags of the United Nations member states flying in front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva in 2014
In front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, home to the United Nations, the flags of the 193 member states line the «Allée des drapeaux». © UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The Global Affairs Section of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland in Geneva represents Switzerland in numerous international organisations, platforms and academic institutions based in Geneva. It is involved in a wide range of activities.

The city of Geneva is home to a large number of international organisations, agencies, foundations, programmes, international secretariats, NGOs, think tanks and academic institutions. The Global Affairs Section of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland in Geneva develops and maintains Switzerland's institutional relations with number of these strategic players.

As a member of these Specialised organisations, Switzerland plays an important role in developing and implementing policy decisions established by these institutions. The Global Affairs Section helps to draw up Switzerland's position in international negotiations, working closely with the competent federal authorities.

The section of the Global affairs in Geneva covers a wide range of fields, which can be grouped into six main areas:

Global health

The World Organization (WHO) is the main UN body dealing with global health issues, responsible for defining the standards and policies relating to public health. The Mission also works with UNAIDS and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Development

The section cooperates with other UN institutions involved in development work, such as UNICEF, the UNDP and the UNFPA.  It is also very active in monitoring processes and intergovernmental decisions on development topics such as the setting of future sustainability goals or the International Conference on Financing for Development.

Labour

With the aim of fostering social harmony and improving the rights of workers throughout the world, and supporting job creation and global growth, the International Labour Organization (ILO)  cooperates closely with governments, workers and employers throughout the world. The Swiss Mission in Geneva dovetails its activities in the ILO with the International Labour Matters (DAIN) service at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Science, technology and intellectual property

International Geneva is also an important centre of science, technology and intellectual property. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the most important and prestigious scientific laboratories in the world, and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialised agency for information and telecommunication technologies.

Internet governance having become a strategic action point since its emergence, the Swiss authorities have initiated the Geneva Internet Platform, whose aim is to promote global governance of the internet.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ensures the protection of intellectual property in commercial use (inventions, literary and artistic works, drawings and models, names and images) by means of patents, copyright and trademark registrations.

In order to ensure good collaboration between these organisations and the federal authorities, the Swiss Mission in Geneva cooperates with the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)  , the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).

Peace and security

Geneva is unique in Europe as a hub for matters of peace and security policy. The Maison de la paix, a new building situated at the heart of International Geneva, brings together the "Three Geneva Centres" (the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), the Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and further national and international partners such as the Centre Social Protestant (CSP), the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP), Interpeace and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre).

Through their work in fragile countries and those experiencing conflict, many international organisations also contribute directly or indirectly to peace (e.g. UNDP, OCHA, WHO, ILO, UNICEF, UNHCR, OHCHR, etc.).

Global governance, think tanks, academia

Geneva is the main centre of global governance, with a particularly high concentration of international players and as the stage for negotiations on key contemporary issues. Switzerland encourages all countries in the world to participate via the Diplo foundation.

Switzerland also promotes the creation of neutral platforms for dialogue, networking and information-sharing, the development of think tanks (PDF, Number of pages 4, 3.9 MB)

and better links between international organisations and academia. For example, it cooperates actively with the IHEID, the University of Geneva and the  United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), which designs and offers training courses in international cooperation.

Environment and sustainability

Climate change, disaster management, ecosystem management and the protection of fauna and flora, environmental governance, resource use and controlling the use of toxic substances are to be some of the huge challenges facing us in the 21st century.

In Geneva and Gland, players active in these areas are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Joint Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Switzerland also works with platforms such as the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) and the Geneva Environment Network (GEN).

At federal level, the Swiss Mission cooperates with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN),   the SDC and météo suisse on matters relating to the environment and sustainability.