With regard to the United Nations Organisation (UN)
In accordance with standard diplomatic practice, the accrediting Government informs the Secretary-General of the UN, in writing and through the offices of its permanent mission in New York, of its intention to establish a permanent mission in Geneva.
The Secretary-General of the UN then informs the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) of this intention. The latter in turn informs the Head of the permanent mission of the host Country (Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and the other international organisations in Geneva).
With regard to Switzerland
In accordance with standard diplomatic practice, the accrediting Government also directly informs the Swiss Government of its intention to establish a permanent mission in Geneva through the usual bilateral diplomatic channels (embassies).
The accrediting Government informs the Swiss Ambassador in the country, or the accrediting Government’s Ambassador to Switzerland informs the Swiss Foreign Minitry (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) of this intention.
The UNOG’s protocol and liaison Service determines the procedure to be followed for the accreditation of permanent representatives to the UNOG. The directives require that the credentials be presented to the UN Secretary-General in each case.
Prior to the arrival in Geneva of the new permanent representative, the mission concerned should contact the UNOG’s protocol and liaison Service to arrange for a meeting with the Director-General for presentation of the credentials, on which occasion the Director-General will receive these in the name of the Secretary-General.
The same authorities entitled to accept the credentials of a permanent representative are also responsible for its possible revocation. It will be addressed to the UN Secretary-General.
Nature and status
The purpose of opening a permanent mission to the UNOG is to maintain permanent relations not only with the UNOG but also with other international organisations that have their headquarters in Geneva.
The host State is represented by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and the other international organisations in Geneva. The Swiss Mission is the diplomatic channel for the permanent representations, whose diplomatic contacts with Swiss authorities must pass exclusively through this channel.
Based on the decision of the Swiss Government, the status of the permanent representations in Geneva - permanent missions, representations and delegations -, as well as the status of their personnel is similar to the status of the diplomatic missions accredited to the Swiss Government. It follows that the privileges and immunities of the permanent missions, representations and delegations in Geneva and of their personnel are those defined by international diplomatic law, i.e. the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961, applied by analogy.
It is customary for the new permanent representative to inform the other permanent representatives by letter that he has presented his credentials to the Director-General of the UNOG.
In view of the large number of permanent missions established in Geneva, the courtesy calls that the permanent representatives may choose to make to the permanent representatives of other countries on arrival is left to their own discretion. There is no obligation to reciprocate.
It is nonetheless customary to pay courtesy calls to the following :
- Permanent representative in Geneva of the Swiss Government (Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UNOG and the other international organisations – permanent mission of the host Country).
- President of the Geneva Diplomatic Committee.
It is customary for a new permanent representative to call upon the Directors and Secretaries-General of the specialised institutions of the United Nations and other international organisations to which he is accredited.
Both the authorities of the Republic and canton of Geneva and the authorities of the City of Geneva are pleased to receive courtesy calls from newly arrived permanent representatives. However, in view of the large number of diplomatic and consular missions in Geneva, such calls are left entirely to the discretion of the new permanent representatives.
Termination of tour of duty of permanent representatives
It is also customary for permanent representatives leaving their position to pay a farewell call to the UNOG Director-General and to the Directors and Secretaries-General of the specialised institutions of the United Nations and other international organisations to which they are accredited.
They normally inform the other permanent representatives of their departure in writing.
The permanent missions are expected to inform the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organisations in Geneva of the departure of the Permanent representative by means of a verbal note.