Introducing International Geneva

Geneva is variously known as the city of peace, the world’s smallest metropolis and a place where great ideas have taken form. It has been the home to philosophers such as Rousseau and Voltaire. It was the centre of the Calvinist reformation and birthplace of the Red Cross.


I hardly need to tell you that it is also a city of great international collaboration in science. Little wonder, then, that over the years, Geneva has developed into the world’s capital of internationalism in the broadest sense of the word. Yet while we all know of the existence of modern day International Geneva, how many of us really know what it does?

Here at CERN, we’re about to find out. Next week sees the first in a series of talks at the Laboratory from the heads of some of the institutions that make up International Geneva. On Friday, 20 February, it will be my pleasure to introduce you to Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), who will be kicking off the series with an overview of the vital role International Geneva plays on the world stage. As the series progresses, I’ll be returning the compliment, presenting CERN to the personnel of other international organisations.

It’s been said that as far as the UN is concerned, while New York is the table, Geneva is the kitchen. But what does it actually cook? Michael Møller’s talk at CERN forms part of his initiative to answer this question and make International Geneva better known. As head of UNOG, he’s uniquely placed to see that while the missions of the International Labour Organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or, for that matter, CERN may differ widely, we all share the spirit of international collaboration over nationalism, of pooling our resources for the greater good. History demonstrates that it is no accident that international organisations have gravitated to Geneva, and there’s a tangible added value in the fact that there are so many of them here.

Over the coming weeks and months, as we hear from the heads of other organisations such as the World Meteorological Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization, we’ll be learning more about what makes International Geneva tick, and how vital a part of it CERN is. Do come along next Friday. You might be surprised by what you learn, and I’ve no doubt that you’ll leave the talk with greater respect for Geneva and the region that hosts our Laboratory.

Rolf Heuer

For more information about International Geneva and the related talks hosted at CERN, read the article: "International Geneva comes to CERNpublished in this issue.