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“The United Nations Office in Geneva is a key hub of international action. And the UNOG Library and Archives are the keepers of the history of modern multilateralism, from the League of Nations to the present day.”

UN’s mission ‘more important than ever’, Secretary-General says at UN Day ceremony


article 27.10
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe The 75th anniversary of the United Nations is marked by a ceremony in the UN General Assembly

26 October 2020 

Seventy-five years after world leaders united to promote global peace and progress through cooperation, representatives from the international community stood in the UN General Assembly Hall on Monday to reaffirm their commitment to this promise.

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As historic virtual debate wraps, ‘our political leaders demonstrated their commitment to multilateralism,’ says UN Assembly President


UN Assembly President
Volkan Bozkir, UN General Assembly President in closing the high-level segment of the  75th session


29 September 2020 

For the first time in the history of the United Nations, global leaders were not able to meet in person for the General Assembly’s annual debate, but the 193-Member body’s President said on Tuesday that the precautions forced by the COVID-19 pandemic “did not prevent multilateralism from operating at the highest levels.”

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UN75 special adviser: We’re lacking political will to tackle global humanitarian crises
By Kasmira Jefford

Source: Geneva Solutions

Fabrizio Hochschild




29 September 2020 
Peace & Humanitarian #United Nations

The world is suffering from a “deficit in political will" - not solutions - in achieving greater cooperation and tackling the global humanitarian crises including the Covid-19 pandemic, the special adviser to the 75th UN General Assembly has warned.

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75 years since the establishment of the United Nations and 100 years of multilateralism
What the United Nations is for?
By Alessandro Bertellotti and Sabrina Faller


United Nations broken chair





As the United Nations turns 75 years on 24 October and the international community celebrates 100 years of multilateralism since the League of Nations’ creation, many seek to understand the role of the United Nations in today’s world in the face of a myriad of challenges. Can countries rally through the United Nations to confront global health and humanitarian challenges, for instance? On Saturday, 26 September 2020, Radio Suisse Italiana (Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana, RSI) hosted a discussion that featured two United Nations officials. Mr. Francesco Pisano, Director - UN Library & Archives Geneva and Ms. Alessandra Vellucci, Director – UN Information Service Geneva, in this podcast, shed more light on the UN’s global role.

Listen to the Podcast in Italian 

"We urgently need innovative thinking on global governance and multilateralism"
Secretary-General's briefing to the Security Council on Global Governance Post-COVID-19

Source: United Nations

Global Governance
UN Photo/Loey Felipe
UN Security Council members hold an open videoconference in connection with Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Global Governance post-COVID-19.



24 September 2020 

The UN Secretary-General on Thursday made an unequivocal case for strengthening multilateralism and building trust among the countries of the world in the face of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed gaps on multiple fronts. He calls for the “need to a networked multilateralism based on strong links and cooperation between global and regional organizations, International Financial Institutions and other global alliances and institutions”.  

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One million people share hopes and fears for future with the UN

Source: United Nations

future with the UN
UN Barbados and the OECS’
A young woman from St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean completed a UN survey about her hopes and futures for the future.



21 September 2020 

The results are in from a massive, unprecedented crowd-sourcing survey of international opinion, launched in January 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Participants from all walks of life, women, men, girls and boys in developed and developing countries were encouraged to share their hopes and fears for the future and how the UN can help to bring about change.  

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Writing at the UN: colleagues, intellectuals, dream weavers
"Connection between multilateralism and the gift of writing"


From the UN Photo archives: An event for International Women's Day in 1977, at which Shirley Hazzard spoke (UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata)




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On the World Health Assembly, António Guterres calls on States to make a massive multilateral effort to move towards “a future of clean energy, inclusivity and equality, and stronger social safety nets, including universal health coverage.”


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In light of the COVD-19 pandemic, UN Geneva Director-General calls for international cooperation


Photo UN/Violaine Martin
Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva




(This is an unofficial staff translation of the original article in French:


24 March 2020 

Faced with human tragedy and an international health crisis caused by the coronavirus, the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Tatyana Valovaya, called for unity in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic on Tuesday (24 March 2020). 

“We now have a common enemy, and our enemy is a pandemic (…). History has taught us that when faced with a common enemy it is easier to work together” said Ms Valovaya in an interview for UN Web TV.

The head of the UN in Geneva says that we must see the positive side in any crisis. “In the positive side, we should be aware that we all belong to one and the same humanity, despite being sovereign and different member states, different nations”, insists Ms Valovaya as she invites the international community to be aware that every global challenge needs a global solution.

The novel coronavirus goes beyond distances as well as frontiers. “The virus knows no national borders, therefore, a national response is not effective”. The Director-General urges for “shared and coordinated national action that would develop into global multilateral solutions on a bigger scale.” This reiterates the significance of UN’s cherished multilateral doctrine, and highlights the importance of coordination of national measures, “without which their effectiveness will be very, very low.”

The UN and International Geneva at work 

The lessons of pragmatism have been adapted at the human level in Geneva. According to the chief of UN Geneva, “It is important to note that it is in our interest to have neighbours, colleagues, and friends who are healthy, stable and thriving during this time of crisis. I think this is important more than ever because in this world no one can stay isolated for long periods of time.” 

In this regard, Ms Valovaya mentioned the local aspect of the fight against Covid-19. Before thinking of borders, it is important to adapt to each situation, she said. This is the case in certain Swiss cantons bordering other European countries, taking into consideration the “close cooperation between France and Switzerland”. A cooperation that is even more important as a great part of UN personnel live in France. In these conditions, the UN emphasizes the importance of “working together”. “This shows that without cooperation, without a multilateral response, we will not be successful”, stated the Director-General.  

In responding to the question of knowing if the Covid-19 pandemic will put multilateral diplomacy in the spotlight, the Director-General of UN Geneva urged for better coordination amongst member states. Without multilateral diplomacy and a global response, it will be difficult to “combat the virus”, because “everything that happens in one corner of the world will sooner or later reach the other side.”  

Launch of an online questionnaire for the 75th anniversary of the UN 

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN raises the urgent need for a “more multilateral solution, because, unfortunately, national responses are no longer effective in a globalized world.” 

At the UN level, Ms. Valovaya is convinced that this crucial time will help international Geneva to work better together. For the moment, plans of action are being prepared on the shores of Lake Geneva with all the essential institutions working to control the virus.  
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently spearheading efforts, and, certainly, we need to support them in their mission. For instance, we, at the UN Office in Geneva, have already requested some of our personnel to volunteer to help WHO, by translating texts, supporting communication and engagements”, expressed Ms Valovaya. 

As many countries have implemented lockdowns, the Director-General invites everyone to make the most of this time spent online to answer a survey on the 75th anniversary of the UN. It is an initiative launched by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres that allows citizens to participate in the global conversation. “We need to think together, to find solutions to global problems,” said Ms Valovaya while highlighting the initial planned activities in the months to come for the Week of Action and the International Day of Multilateralism (24 April). 

How Conference Management and Communications adapt 

At the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the Division on Conference Management at UN Geneva have also adapted to the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Meetings and multilateral conferences have been postponed. Director Corinne Momal-Vanian mentioned that in this situation, the UN remains active and able to provide member states with documents prepared in the six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish,). However, if lockdowns are extended, the UN could propose to hold certain discussions online.  

The Covid-19 pandemic requires rescheduling meetings in UN Geneva so that essential multilateral work between countries can resume after the crisis is over. Multilateralism, in a time of crisis, also needs to overcome the challenges of multilingualism. “Official meetings are allowed interpretation and to provide this service on current available online platforms is a challenge.” Said Ms Momal-Vanian in an interview with UN News. 

The UN also underlines the challenges of equity among member states. Not all countries can participate in the same way in online discussions as some are better equipped than others. According to the Director of Conference Management, “this is just the beginning and we are trying to act quickly.” 

Please be advised that due to the lockdown, Information Services of UN Geneva will hold virtual press briefings every two weeks. With the help of technology, all the different entities of UN Geneva are keeping track of the pandemic and the responses of the United Nations online.

"If countries work together, we will see a much faster recovery than if each country acts alone."
Message of Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on trade outlook 2020







These numbers are ugly – there is no getting around that. But a rapid, vigorous rebound is possible. Decisions taken now will determine the future shape of the recovery and global growth prospects. We need to lay the foundations for a strong, sustained and socially inclusive recovery. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said.

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Cash help crucial for informal workers, says UN labour chief, stressing primacy of multilateralism








The ILO Director-General’s comments came during an online debate between UN and other international agency heads and the wider public on the challenges facing international cooperation in the time of COVID-19.

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Cities at the forefront of key battles for humanity: time for a new multilateralism?
by Olga Algayerova

Source: UNECE






We are living in one of those moments which define history. As it is always the case in such moments, the promise and peril of international cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism inevitably come under the spotlight, as evidenced by the overwhelming media attention given to governments’ joint response to the current Covid-19 outbreak.

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Secretary-General’s address on the occasion of International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace

The COVID19 pandemic is a tragic reminder of how deeply connected we are. The virus knows no borders and is a quintessential global challenge.  Combatting it requires us to work together as one human family.

We must do all we can to save lives and ease the economic and social devastation.  Crucially, we need to draw the appropriate lessons about the vulnerabilities and inequalities the virus has laid bare, and mobilize investments in education, health systems, social protection and resilience.

SG Video




This is the biggest international challenge since the Second World War.  Yet even before this test, the world was facing other profound transnational perils – climate change above all. 

But multilateralism is not only a matter of confronting shared threats; it is about seizing common opportunities.  We now have the opportunity to build back better than in the past, aiming at inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.

It is not enough to proclaim the virtues of multilateralism; we must continue to show its added value.  International cooperation must adapt to changing times.

We need a networked multilateralism, strengthening coordination among all global multilateral organizations, with regional ones able to make their vital contributions; and an inclusive multilateralism, based on deep interaction with civil society, businesses, local and regional authorities and other stakeholders… where the voice of youth is decisive in shaping our future.

At this key moment for international cooperation, and in this 75th anniversary year of the United Nations, let us strive as one to realize the founders’ vision of a healthy, equitable, peaceful and more sustainable future for all.


Watch the video 

Public support for international cooperation surges amid global upheaval

un75 report

Data from 186 countries indicates overwhelming public support for international cooperation – with a significant increase since COVID-19 began spreading around the world. Collected through hundreds of conversations and an online survey, the data is part of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary initiative (UN75). Launched in January 2020, UN75 is the largest exercise mounted by the Organization to gather public opinion and crowdsource solutions to global challenges.

New York, April 20, 2020. As the whole UN system unites to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the Organization is also scaling up its efforts to give voice to the global public through its 75th anniversary initiative (UN75). Launched in January, UN75 will run throughout 2020, to give all people the opportunity to shape global priorities by participating in a UN75 dialogue or completing a one-minute survey available at[1]

Preliminary findings, based on data collected between 1 January 2020 and 24 March 2020, were published today [2] on

1. An overwhelming majority—95%--of respondents agreed on the need for countries to work together to manage global trends, with a noticeable uptick from late February, as the upheaval caused by COVID-19 spread around the world. Support cut across all age groups and education levels. Ideas on strengthening international cooperation included more effective partnerships with civil society and the private sector, and greater involvement of women, youth, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups in policymaking.

2. Climate and environment topped the list of issues that will most affect humanity’s future – with more than double the responses of any other issue. Conflict and violence came second, and health risks third, having risen sharply since early March.

3. The top five future priorities that emerged were: environmental protection, protection of human rights, less conflict, equal access to basic services, and zero discrimination.

“I look forward to our continued efforts to ensure a meaningful observance of the seventy-fifth anniversary of our Organization, and to use this milestone for reflection on the multilateral cooperation the world needs at this time, both in addressing the immediate pandemic and in achieving the longer-term goals for which the United Nations was founded.” – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres


[1] Launched by the UN Secretary-General, the UN’s 75th anniversary initiative is markedly different from previous commemorations, with less emphasis on communicating the UN’s successes and a strong focus on listening to the global public, especially young people. Over the course of 2020, the UN75 team will gather public perspectives on global challenges and solutions on how to tackle them through a one-minute survey (in 53 languages) and dialogues – now overwhelmingly online – organised by partners across the world. This data will be complemented by representative polling; academic research; and media and social media analysis in some 70 countries. The results will be presented in September 2020, at the official commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary, after which UN75 will focus on how best to take them forward, with a final report to be published in January 2021.

[2] The data used was gathered between 1 January and 24 March 2020. During this period, 35,556 in 186 UN Member States took the one-minute survey online, in addition to 5,688 who participated through mobile applications. Over 330 dialogues took place in 87 UN Member States, with 56 summaries from 32 of them included in this preliminary analysis.

Read the UN75 Update in full at:

Join the UN75 conversation at:

UN General Assembly President upholds value of multilateralism in speech closing annual debate

Source: United Nations

UN Photo/Cia Pak
Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, closes the general debate of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly. (30 September 2019)




Tijjani Muhammad-Bande underscored the value of multilateral cooperation in addition to what he described as “the give-and-take spirit” that defines it.

“It is perfectly legitimate to raise questions about the essence of, and the need for, multilateralism,” he said. “All the same, even when we disagree on how the world should be organized to respond to or anticipate mounting challenges, we shall eventually come to common cause on the need for a rules-based international order."


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Onset of COVID-19 pandemic boosts support for international cooperation

Source: United Nations

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly




Initial results of a UN initiative to help decide the future direction of the Organization have revealed overwhelming support for international cooperation, which has grown significantly since COVID-19 began spreading around the world.


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COVID-19 Response
“Now is the time for unity”
by António Guterres

Source: United Nations

Secretary General





The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime. It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences.

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UN Adopts Resolution Urging Global Cooperation on COVID-19
The U.N. General Assembly has unanimously approved a resolution recognizing “the unprecedented effects” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Associated Press







UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Thursday recognizing “the unprecedented effects” of the coronavirus pandemic and calling for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the COVID-19 disease.

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An international virus needs an international response
By Daniel Warner








Newton’s third law of motion says that for every action there is a reaction. While many of the 17th century English physicist’s laws have been replaced by modern science, his third law has important implications for today’s coronavirus outbreak. We know the virus exists. It has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). What we don’t know is how to react to the virus.

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Geneva exhibition examines human struggle between war and peace
By Frédéric Burnand


Geneva Exhibition






Is war the future of man? This philosophical question is at the centre of an exhibition on war and peace at the Bodmer Foundation in Geneva, which features priceless manuscripts, books and other documents, including part of Leo Tolstoy's original manuscript for "War and Peace" and a 4,500-year-old peace treaty.

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From the League to the UN: ending Swiss isolationism
By Simon Bradley


From the League to the UN






One hundred years ago, Switzerland was facing a profound decision whether to join the League of Nations. The historic popular vote in 1920, and those in 1986 and 2002 to join its successor, the United Nations, represented key reflections of the changing attitudes to Swiss neutrality and isolationism.

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Swiss reaffirm their commitment to International Geneva
By Simon Bradley








The Swiss authorities have signed a joint declaration reaffirming their commitment to so-called “International Geneva” and the multilateral system, which is celebrating its centenary in the Swiss city.

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With Geneva, Switzerland strode boldly into the 20th century
By Frédéric Burnand


Palais des Nations article





International Geneva was born out of the turmoil of the First World War. After leaning towards the German Empire from the 1870s, Switzerland quickly rebalanced its foreign relations in favour of France and the United States in 1917. Bern then promoted the potential of Geneva to be a player on the international stage, drawing the League of Nations there 100 years ago.

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UN secretary general: recovery from the coronavirus crisis must lead to a better world
António Guterres

Source: The Guardian







Only by coming together will the world be able to face down the Covid-19 pandemic and its shattering consequences. At an emergency virtual meeting last Thursday, G20 leaders took steps in the right direction. But we are still far away from having a coordinated, articulated global response that meets the unprecedented magnitude of what we are facing.

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Source: Graduate Institute, 2020

Multilateralism: what's next?


Designed to foster cooperation among states, the multilateral system put in place after WWII is based on shared “principles of conduct” and expectations of “diffuse reciprocity” (J. Ruggie). It found expression in multiple for as such as the UN.

Dominic Eggel, Research Advisor at the Research Office of the Graduate Institute questions the future of Multilateralism in this article entitled “Multilateralism is on crisis – or is it?” published by the IHEID.

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Historic first, as Tolstoy’s War and Peace lands in Geneva, to mark international centenary

Source: UN News, 2019

Tolstoy manuscript arriving in Geneva






The precious cargo, which is widely regarded as one of the finest novels ever written on humankind’s conflicting desires to fight and live together, arrived late last week at the city’s international airport from Moscow.

Masked and heavily armed Swiss army soldiers clad in black, met the Swiss flight, as Tolstoy Museum Vice-Director Nadezhda Petrova emerged from the jet, clutching a metal briefcase containing six pages of the opus.

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Watch the UNTV video

UN General Assembly President upholds value of multilateralism in speech closing annual debate

Source: United Nations, 2019

UN General Assembly






Tijjani Muhammad-Bande underscored the value of multilateral cooperation in addition to what he described as “the give-and-take spirit” that defines it.

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International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace

Source: United Nations, 2019

Member States flags outside UN HQ New York






On April 24 2019, the first official International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was celebrated. The General Assembly convened a one-day high-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the day.

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Almost 100 Years Old: digitizing documents from the League of Nations archives

Source: UNOPS, 2019

The League of Nations, Committee on the Trafficking of Women






The United Nations Library at Geneva is in the process of digitizing the entire League of Nations archives collection. This ambitious project is intended to span 5 years (2017-2022) and hopes to successfully preserve, and make accessible, roughly 15,000,000 pages of unique material.

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When League of Nations reporters put Geneva on the map

Source: Swissinfo, 2019; Author: Akiko Uehara

LoN first council meeting in January 1920






An interesting, short Swissinfo article about how the presence of the League of Nations in Geneva attracted and inspired international journalism, securing Switzerland's global standing as a centre of multilateralism.

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From Other Organizations

IFRC turns 100

IFRC 100 logo


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has been saving lives and contributing to international development for 100 years. To learn more about the Federation's history and goals for the future, watch their official video below. "Happy birthday to the world's largest humanitarian organization."

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ILO turns 100

ILO 100 logo


2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization.

The ILO Library created a new digital collection about the documents of the Labour Commission (which drafted the ILO Constitution in 1919); giving "a unique insight into the work and discussions that led to the creation of the first international organization for the advancement of social justice through improved working conditions." (ILO Library representative, 2019)

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IPU celebrates 130 years

130 years of the IPU


The Inter-Parliamentary Union also celebrated a landmark anniversary this year. To promote this, the organization released a fun and informative video.

Click below to watch:

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Fondation pour Genève: latest news

Fondation pour Genève logo

Get up to date news and information about initiatives and activities designed to support Geneva's international development.

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