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Palais des Nations

 

The Director-General
Sergei Ordzhonikidze, a Russian national, was appointed to the post of Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and took up his post on 1 March 2002.

The major fields of activity of the United Nations in Geneva

Gifts from different countries contribute to the decoration of the Palais des Nations. Several are grouped on the mezzanine, which you can look at as we pass by. They reflect the cultural diversity of the countries. They include:

History

History of Gustave de Revilliod de la Rive

From this footbridge linking the new wing of Palais des Nations to the old part of the building, we can see a sarcophagus: it is that of Gustave de Revilliod, former owner of the Ariana domain and last descendant of the Geneva family of the Revilliod de la Rive. Upon his death, in 1890, Gustave Revilliod bequeathed the park to the City of Geneva, which in turn handed it over firstly to the League of Nations (in exchange of a site of the League of Nations located by the lake) and then to the UN, with a right of occupation, a sort of usufruct. The right of occupation is valid as long as the Organization to which it was given is to exist. In the park there are peacocks roaming freely, perpetuating a tradition born at the start of the 19th Century in the romantic spirit of the Revilliods. (NOTE: It has erroneously been assumed that Gustave Revilliod made it a condition of his bequeathal that the peacocks be allowed to roam the grounds.)

The Library

You may also see from the footbridge the Library (left, on footbridge), which was founded in 1919 by the League of Nations, and has been housed here since 1936, thanks to the generosity of Mr. John D. Rockefeller (donation of two million dollars). It is one of the largest international libraries in the world, with one million volumes specialized in the fields of international relations, law, politics and economics.

The Library has more than 4 million United Nations documents, and 500,000 specialized agencies publications. It also receives 13,000 periodicals, as well as many official publications from all the Member States and from international organizations. The UNOG Library, as an institutional memory of the United Nations, is also responsible for managing the archives of UNOG and of the League of Nations.

It is used by the Secretariat of the Organization, Permanent Missions, specialized agencies and by advanced researchers, professors or students preparing their doctorates.

Description of the Hall and brief history of the Palais

We are now in the Hall of the Lost Footsteps, the heart of Palais des Nations, which was built between 1929 and 1936 to become the headquarters of the League of Nations, which needed, for its meetings, a palace befitting its ideals. The Palais des Nations is made up of a series of buildings and covers an area and has a volume equivalent to the Château de Versailles (18.000 m2 – 44.000 m3). With the dissolution of the League of Nations, its assets were passed on to the United Nations. On 1 August 1946 the United Nations officially took over the Palais des Nations.

With the gradual increase in the number of Member States (they are now 192) and rapid development of multilateral diplomacy, the space at the Palais des Nations proved to be insufficient to sustain such a boom. Between 1968 and 1973, a new wing was added doubling the Palais’ volume. The new wing holds some 1,100 offices and 10 conference rooms. Overall, the Palais des Nations has some 2,000 offices and 34 conference rooms.

The old Palais des Nations that we are visiting at present is the collective work of a team of five architects: Broggi (Italy), Flegenheimer (Switzerland), Lefèvre and Nénot (France) and Vagó (Hungary). It houses 2 large conference rooms (Assembly Hall and Council Chamber), 24 Commission rooms and 900 offices.

The Hall of the Lost Footsteps is the main lobby of the Assembly Hall. On the floor and walls we find marble from different countries:


Please notice the combined French-English monograms of the League of Nations above the handles of the two brass gates, which delimit the Hall.

The two wall paintings (1954) are the work of a French painter, Anne Carlu (spouse of Jacques Carlu, one of the architects of the New Wing) and represent peace and war.

Description of the Park and the monuments

The park covers an area of 35 hectares. Notice the age-old trees; other trees have been planted, notably (in 1962) a birch in memory of Secretary-General Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a plane in 1961 while on a peace mission in the Congo.

Also notice three monuments:
- The Armillary Sphere, in gold-plated bronze, donated in 1936 to the League of Nations by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation of the United States, in memory of President Wilson’s work in favour of the creation of the League of Nations. It was conceived by the American sculptor Paul Manship, then cast and plated in Italy by Bruno Bearzy.

- This monument, considered the symbol of the United Nations Office at Geneva, illustrates the different constellations of the Universe. When it was set in place, the sphere would rotate but exposure to the elements has gradually damaged the mechanism so that it no longer rotates. Its golden layer has also deteriorated.

- Conquest of Space Monument, gift of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), inaugurated on 20th July 1971 and dedicated to the success of Man in his conquest of space. This slender monument (28 m high), which is covered with a thin layer of titanium (element used in the construction of spacecrafts; resistant to very high temperatures), is a symbol of modern space technology and the statue of the cosmonaut in a space suit expresses the wish of Mankind to penetrate outer space. Soviet architect :Alexander Koltchin. Sculptor: Yuri G. Neroda.

- Villas
- The grounds of the Palais des Nations house three nineteenth century villas: Villa la Fenêtre, Villa le Bocage and Villa la Pelouse, dating from 1820, 1823 and 1853 respectively. These villas were originally private residences.

Villa la Fenêtre is the official residence of the Director-General of UNOG. Villa le Bocage and Villa la Pelouse are used as office space.

Description of the Park and the monuments

The park covers an area of 35 hectares. Notice the age-old trees; other trees have been planted, notably (in 1962) a birch in memory of Secretary-General Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a plane in 1961 while on a peace mission in the Congo.

Also notice three monuments:

 

Conference Rooms

There are 21 major conference rooms and 15 meeting rooms at the Palais des Nations. The largest is the Assembly Hall, which seats about 1,200 people.

Conference Room XX

 

Restaurants and Bars

Delegates’ Restaurant:


Cafeteria:


Press Bar:


Delegates’ Bar:


Palette Bar


Serpent Bar:

Other Services

Door 6 – Building C – Ground floor


Door 40 – New (E) Building – 2nd floor