CERN’s model for international scientific collaboration to be discussed at UNOG

On 2 November, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, CERN and UNOG will co-host a one-day symposium, with the support of Switzerland and France. The event will bring together policy-makers, scientists and members of civil society to debate how to construct synergies across communities as a means to drive global objectives. CERN people are invited to the Palais des Nations to take part.


CERN's seat at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

How does CERN work? How are goals achieved in such a complex environment where diverse communities work together in the interests of science? CERN’s model for international scientific collaboration is being looked at with growing interest by an increasingly large community of experts in various fields. Scientific advances and accomplishments are testament to the effectiveness of the model and prove that ambitious scientific programmes can be carried out only by communities collaborating in the long-term. “The backbone of the CERN model is its Convention, which gives very clear directions but also allows for flexibility,” says Director-General Rolf Heuer. “The success of CERN relies on the contributions from a huge community of scientists and engineers spread worldwide. They collaborate and share common values and ideals, for the sake of global knowledge and regardless of the country they come from.” At the symposium, speakers will discuss if and how this model can be used effectively in other contexts for the good of society.

Indeed, just as in the particle physics community, many of the challenges that society faces today, including understanding climate change, dealing with shrinking biodiversity, and ensuring access to safe water, health, internet and education for all the inhabitants of the planet, involve several stakeholders and must be addressed by experts coming from a number of different disciplines. The event organised by CERN and UNOG will give representatives from various UN agencies, international governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as diplomats, policymakers, economists, sociologists and members of the physics community the opportunity to discuss how to identify the right approach to address these issues in a coordinated way.

“How to reconcile open collaborative efforts and market approaches; bottom-up initiatives and top-down strategy and regulation; local and global policies; how to choose the appropriate model for a given situation; and what we can learn from our experiences at CERN and elsewhere will be the topics at the core of the discussions,” says Michel Spiro, former President of the CERN Council and one of the organisers of the joint symposium. “The hope is to stimulate a creative exchange that can help us develop an innovative approach to the provision of global public goods. This exchange is all the more significant as 2015 marked the adoption of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: an international programme that will shape the future of international cooperation and of which CERN is part.”

CERN people are invited to attend the event. The number of seats is limited, so please register on this website to secure your seat.

The video recording of the conference is available at this link. Also see the Word from the DG published in this issue.

CERN and the UN​

The United Nations and CERN are continuing to strengthen their cooperation in science, technology, innovation and education, as well as in peace and sustainable development. In 2011, a Cooperation Agreement was established between CERN and the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). This was followed in 2012 by the granting of Observer status to CERN by the United Nations General Assembly. In October 2014, CERN and the UN held a major event in New York entitled “CERN: 60 years of science for peace and development.”  


See CERN at the UNOG Open Day!​

The UNOG Open Day will be held on 24 October at the Palais des Nations and the surrounding Ariana Park. The UN will be celebrating its anniversary the same day, exactly 70 years since the Charter of the United Nations entered into force!

CERN will be taking part in the Open Day celebrations, installing the interactive LHC tunnel in the exhibition area of the Palais. CERN guides will be on hand to speak to visitors about the Laboratory.

Join in the fun! There will be a wide range of activities to enjoy, including concerts, film screenings, free guided tours, lectures and much more. Click here to find out more.

(Video in French)


by Antonella Del Rosso