[Dateline: Geneva | Author: UNOG/iSeek]
The new state-of-the-art Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) with its artistic domed ceiling is now officially open and has been included on the guided tour route at the Palais des Nations.
The announcement was made by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, UNOG Director-General, and Javier Garrigues, the Ambassador of Spain to UNOG, who briefed journalists at the Palais des Nations on Tuesday.
Mr. Ordzhonikidze expressed his gratefulness to the Government and people of Spain, to Miquel Barceló, the room’s artist, and to the nongovernmental organization ONUART for their very impressive and practical gift.
The room was inaugurated by the Secretary-General last November (full message).
Mr. Ordzhonikidze said that the Office was looking forward to hosting meetings in the room on various issues and to provide its users with state-of-the-art technology.
Ms. Marie Heuzé, the Director of the United Nations Information Service at Geneva, said that an average of 1,500 people per day had visited the Palais des Nations during the Easter weekend.
The contribution made by Spain, as well as the rooms refurbished by other Member States, were part of the overall maintenance efforts of the Palais des Nations but Mr. Ordzhonikidze added that they were not substitutes for a full structural renovation of the building.
Mr. Ordzhonikidze concluded by expressing his sincere gratitude to the Permanent Mission of Spain for the excellent collaboration throughout the realization of this unprecedented project.
Ambassador Garrigues explained that the room's recent test period had been successful. The voting system, the acoustics and the audiovisual facilities that included integrated webcasting all make use of state-of-the-art technology and reflect the perfect functioning of the room.
The flexible format of the room allows for its use for conferences, Economic and Social Council meetings and also for the Security Council.
Ambassador Garrigues added that the room also complied with environmental standards and offers easy access to the disabled.
Ambassador Garrigues said that the room illustrates the commitment of Spain to multilateralism and that it would also reinforce the Human Rights Council.
He noted that the room had raised great interest in the world of art and culture, adding that it has even been considered by some as a piece of art of the twenty-first century.
Ambassador Garrigues quoted Louise Arbour, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, who had said during a conference at the University of Geneva this month, that the work of Barceló underlined multiplicity in unity as well as the difference of viewpoints in uniformity. Thus, the room is an ideal place for negotiations.
Ambassador Garrigues stressed the willingness of Spain that the room be opened to a greater number of visitors since the room is a treasure that should not only be opened to diplomats.
Ambassador Garrigues also hopes that the effort made by the Spanish Government would serve as an example for other Member States to further collaborate in the maintenance of the Palais des Nations.