International Geneva continues to expand

An aerial view of the international district in Geneva, with the European headquarters of the United Nations in the centre KEYSTONE/ VALENTIN FLAURAUD

The number of staff working for the United Nations, international organisations, non-governmental agencies and diplomatic missions in Geneva has risen to over 33,000, according to new figures. 

This content was published on October 4, 2018

The Geneva cantonal statistics officeExternal link reported on Thursday that 25,972 people were working for 34 international organisations in the western Swiss city in March 2018 (+2.7% compared to 2017), including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Geneva is also home to the UN’s European headquarters which employs around 9,500. 

The statistics office said the number of permanent international civil servants had fallen slightly by 0.6%, while non-permanent contracts had risen by 11.7%. The latter now represent 30% of all contracts. 

In addition, 4,211 people work for permanent diplomatic missions or consulates in Geneva accredited to the UN or to other international organisations.

The number of NGOs based the city has also increased. According to the canton’s International Geneva welcome service (CAGI), 399 were registered this year, employing 2,878 people. Of these, 192 NGOs employed at least one person. Almost two-thirds employed less than ten people, mostly in the humanitarian, human rights, migration, law, employment, economics, trade, science and telecommunications fields. The status of the 207 other NGOs was unclear. 

Last year, the amount of money spent or invested by the Geneva-based international organisations and NGOs hit a record CHF6.2 million ($6.22 billion), up 3.6% compared to 2016. Over half of this amount – including salaries and insurance and pension payments – was spent or invested in Switzerland. 

The statistics office said there had been 3,364 international conferences and meetings held in the city last year - a record – up almost 19% compared to the previous year. In all, 221,166 people participated. 

The local authorities boast that there are “more protocol receptions in Geneva than in New York and more international conferences than in any city in the world”. Last year, Geneva welcomed around 4,700 international VIPs, including 97 heads of state, 44 prime ministers, over 2,000 ministers and nearly 700 royal family members.  

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