Being in the city of global headquarters, visiting the United Nations office was on the top of our bucket list in Geneva. A guided tour is the only way to visit the UN premises for general public. Tours are offered in French and English at specified times. We booked our tour and waited at the majestic entrance of the United Nations Office for the security. After the security clearance, we walked inside the beautiful premises towards the location indicated for the guided tours. There were strict instructions not to venture alone anywhere without the guide for security purposes. We were welcomed by our tour guide who explained the brief working of the Geneva office of the UN and the exciting walk started. We were all asked to introduce ourselves by the country of origin and it felt so proud to be the only 2 Indians representing our country in the global group of audience. The encompassing perspective where your race, sex, religion, ethnicity made no difference and you only represent your country was so enticing.
193 member nations and 2 permanent observers form the United Nations which has the primary objective of world peace, human rights and well being; climate change being added as the latest on the priority list. Organisations like WHO (World Health Organisation) , UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations) and many more work for directional objectives under the UN. There are on an average 47 meetings a day at the Geneva office of the UN and work on the human rights is majorly carried out here.
The premises is divided between the old building and the new one. The headquarters of the earlier organisation of the League of the nations which was called the ‘Palais des Nations‘ was handed over to the UN in 1946. The palais (palace) stands in the big park of Ariana which originally belonged to the Swiss Revilliod de Rive family. To keep their tradition running, UN still has peacocks freely moving around in the park. A lot of them are a gift from India to the UN.
The tour has limited access in the premises but the grandeur and the contribution of all the nations to make the place so beautiful is seen at every step. Elegant artworks gifted by various countries in the world ornament the office of the UN.
We could sit in a public gallery and have a look at the largest conference room at the UN office which has a beautiful dome artwork on the ceiling full of colours depicting the bottom of the ocean, which give a different perspective when you look at it from different sides. Many important decisions are taken by the world nations in this ‘Human Rights and Alliances of Civilisations Room’
Next in line was the ‘Salle de perdue‘ in the Palais des Nations (old building) which is a big impressive gallery made from marble and stones gifted by various nations.
The U shaped Assembly hall can host about 2000 people and was recently renovated with state of the art technology. This hall also hosts some unique cultural events.
The splendorous council chamber which has peculiar murals gifted by Spain stunned us by the way the old decor is restored.
The visit and the discussions held in the guided tour was very insightful and highlighted the global perspective towards common problems we all face as humanity. Even the small book shop had interesting stuff making the visit memorable.
Witnessing the premises where historic decisions are made was a legendary experience. If you are ever in and around Geneva, do not miss this captivating opportunity to visit the epitome of global organisations!