United Nations Office at Geneva
Address: Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Stakeholder group: International and regional organisation
Housed at the Palais des Nations, UN Geneva serves as the representative oﬃce of the UN Secretary-General at Geneva. A focal point for multilateral diplomacy,UN Geneva serviced around 6,000 meetings in 2022, making it one of the busiest conference centres in the world. With more than 1,600 staﬀ, UN Geneva is the most prominent duty station of the UN Secretariat outside the UN headquarters in New York.
UN Geneva hosts many meetings and processes related to disarmament, human rights, e-commerce, health, labour, development, and other areas. In addition to these meetings, UN Geneva also hosts several thematic cultural activities and organises the Ciné ONU project, which uses ﬁlms to shine a light on the UN’s work on gender equality, human rights, humanitarian aid, health, peace and reconciliation, and many other issues.
Digital policy issues
Led by UN Geneva, the SDG Lab is a multistakeholder innovation space for the sustainable development goals (SDGs), that inspires and promotes system change through new lenses to long-term sustainability. An example of a concrete initiative is the Geneva SDG Data Forum, launched in 2022 in partnership with the Geneva Graduate Institute and Deloitte Switzerland. The Geneva SDG Data Forum acts as an informal platform for individuals and organisations to share SDG data knowledge through a series of hands-on ateliers on data, monitoring, and accountability.
The SDG Lab also played a key role in the inception of the GESDA Open Quantum Institute (OQI) through its function as an OQI advisory board member, offering guidance and insights into potential case studies and applications of quantum technologies for the SDGs and long-term sustainability.
Other examples of initiatives launched or supported by UN GGeneva in the area of sustainable development include SDG Acceleration Actions, an initiative dedicated to mobilising Geneva-based actors working to make SDGs a reality, and Building Bridges Week, dedicated to creating an international movement for sustainable ﬁnance.
In addition, the International Geneva Perception Change project – managed by a team of the Oﬃce of UN Geneva’s Director-General– has among its four areas of work the promotion of the SDGs. SDG Mapping, for instance, showcases who does what in Geneva towards the global goals. The other three areas are related to making information accessible, changing the narratives, and promoting the work of Geneva-based organisations.
The UN Library & Archives Geneva serves as a space for knowledge and learning. It facilitates knowledge exchanges, encourages innovation and collaboration, and acts as a centre for research on multilateralism.
The library provides access to a diverse set of resources (books, articles, UN documents, etc.), on digital-related topics such as economy, trade, human rights, and peace and security. It also facilitates access to numerous databases (maintained by various UN entities), such as the UN Digital Library.
The library coordinates the UN Knowledge and Learning Commons, together with the Centre for Learning and Multilingualism. The Commons hosts activities and learning experiences on various subjects, including some with a digital dimension, such as technology and innovation, information literacy, hybrid meetings, digital accessibility, and multilingualism.
The Conference Primers platform gives rapid access to all conference summaries and to key decisions taken at meetings held at UN Geneva. It continues to grow, with advice from experts, contributions from partners, and research led by the UN Library & Archives Geneva.
In 2022, the Library & Archives also completed a major five-year project to provide online access to the entire original archives of the League of Nations between 1919 and 1946: The Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives Project (LONTAD). As a result, nearly 15 million pages of materials are now available online, free of charge. Thanks to this project, every person connected to the internet now has an opportunity to consult various documents of the League of Nations online
The UN Geneva’s podcasts reinforce the organisation’s outreach efforts, spotlighting issues and bringing the key messages of the UN to another platform. Scripted, recorded, and edited at the Palais des Nations, the English-language podcast UN Catch-up Dateline Geneva and the French-language podcast ONU Info Genève offer up the week’s biggest stories from International Geneva, including from UN agencies and their partners. The podcasts are available weekly via social media platforms and UN News.
Digital tools and initiatives
Geneva has been traditionally strong on peace initiatives. It is often regarded as a city of choice for mediators and special envoys because it provides a neutral, discreet, secure space for dialogue. Many peace talks, and conflict prevention and mediation efforts are hosted at the Palais des Nations.
Digital Mediation Toolkit 1.0, developed by the UN and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in 2019, assesses opportunities and risks associated with the use of digital technologies in the mediation context and provides concrete examples and advice from experts and practitioners. The digital technologies and tools currently used by mediators include social media, geographic information systems (GIS), and data analytics.
Cyber Hygiene and Digital Risk Management E-Learning Platform for Mediators is a tool, developed to raise awareness of the digital risks that mediation practitioners encounter and build the capacity needed to mitigate and manage them.
Mandate Review and Management System (MRMS), a tool used by UN Secretariat entities to support the decision-making of the member states. Each year, over 100 complex oral statements of programme budget implications can emanate from draft resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council, the intergovernmental body of the UN system which is headquartered in Geneva. The MRMS greatly promotes efficiency and transparency and enhances real-time collaboration in the creation of oral statements, archiving of data, and the overall workflow of this process.
UNTERM is a multilingual terminology database maintained jointly by the UN Secretariat and certain specialised agencies of the UN system, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). UNTERM provides terminology and nomenclature in subjects relevant to the work of the UN system. Information is provided in the six UN official languages, and there are also entries in German and Portuguese. This database is a linguistic tool created primarily to facilitate the work of the staff of the UNsystem and other people around the world who participate or are interested in the organisation’s activities.
UN Geneva’s Fully Automated Speech-to-Text (FAST) project generates conference transcripts with the help of AI. Since the launch of the English version in 2019, FAST has scaled up to process thousands of hours of recordings per year, covering meetings for 40 UN entities. In 2022, UN Geneva rolled out French and Spanish transcription, with support from the International Organization of la Francophonie. The FAST project team has been collaborating with the machine learning researchers at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to improve the latter’s proprietary speech recognition models on thousands of hours worth of UN Geneva’s training data in six languages. Thanks to the common pool of data shared by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), WIPO, WTO, and other international organisations, the retrained speech-to-text instances have become more relevant to, and accurate for, the conferencing environment and multilingual international speakers. The resulting raw transcripts are an essential building block for deploying further text analysis services underpinned by extractive or generative AI.
The Digital Recordings Portal is the online repository for all meetings recorded at the Palais des Nations and Palais Wilson. It is available in English and French, and the interface is compatible with standard accessibility tools and controllable via keyboard navigation. Since its update in 2022, meeting transcripts are generated in English, French, and Spanish and uploaded to the portal completely automatically. This allows those with hearing impairments to readily access the content of meetings held at UN Geneva. The portal also serves as a crucial tool for reporting on meeting outcomes. In 2022, more than 2,800 meetings were recorded and published on the portal, most of them in multiple languages.
With approximately 700,000 users across the globe, Indico.UN is the UN’s standard solution for participant management. The software establishes a web-based workflow, covering the creation of the event page and set-up of the registration form, participants registration, registration vetting, as well as badging and check-in activities. The system also has a series of elements related to the dissemination of information and documents, event statistics, timeline management, and accreditation of users in need of long-term badges. Indico.UN is a modular system, very easy to customise by the users of the UN-system organisations.
Extra-budgetary Cost Calculator is a financial planning tool that enables extra-budgetary conferencing clients to generate unofficial cost estimates on a self-service basis. Users can run multiple scenarios to match their available budgets by selecting which services to include or exclude, altering the duration of meetings/conferences and/or the requirements for meeting services and seeing the associated cost impact. The calculator includes costs for services provided by DCM (e.g. interpretation, documentation, and accessibility services), the Division of Administration (e.g. sound and audio-recording operators, technicians, mechanics, IT support), UN Library & Archives Geneva (e.g. cultural events), and the UN International School (UNIS) (e.g. webcasting).
Future of meetings
UN Geneva provides a key international dialogue and diplomacy platform. The Division of Conference Management (DCM) facilitates these discussions and conferences by providing high-quality services (logistically and substantively) for UN agencies, international organisations, and highly sensitive political negotiations. You can ﬁnd all the information about meetings and events on UN Geneva’s meeting and events calendar.
Social media channels
Facebook @UN Geneva
Flickr @UN Geneva
YouTube @UN Geneva