[Dateline: Geneva | Author: UNOG]
Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon on Tuesday, 18 November joined the King and Queen of Spain in Geneva to inaugurate the “Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room” at the Palais des Nations. The facility is one of the largest conference rooms in the UN Offices at Geneva (UNOG).
The renovation of the former Room XX with a seating capacity of 754 persons represents one of the biggest ever single donations to the United Nations.
The main feature of the refurbished room is a ceiling sculpture by the prominent contemporary Spanish artist Miquel Barceló.
The sculpture is groundbreaking both artistically and technically. The new dome consists of many layers of paint of different colours, composed of pigments from across the globe and sprayed onto the ceiling to generate stalactites.
Some 700 invited guests attended the opening ceremony, which was also addressed by the Presidents of Switzerland and Spain, the Prime Minister of Turkey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and Mr. Barceló.
Accepting the gift on behalf of the Organization, the Secretary-General metaphorically compared the room with the work of the UN, noting that it would be a place where all countries, large and small, developed and developing, could air their grievances, highlight their aspirations and, in the end, find consensus (full remarks).
He referred to the techniques used in creating the dome and encouraged all to bring the same sense of innovation to the deliberations that would take place in the room. “Let us not settle for the status quo”, he said, "but instead be visionary, creative and bold”.
The renovation and the dome sculpture were funded through the ONUART Foundation, a Spanish non-profit, public-private partnership aimed at promoting the use of contemporary Spanish art to facilitate dialogue and multilateralism through the United Nations system in Geneva.
Thanking the Government and people of Spain, as well as the ONUART Foundation, for the generous contribution to the work of the UN, the Director-General of UNOG, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, said the conference room would make an important difference to the daily work of the Organization. “Through its innovative design and its compelling symbolism, this room will contribute to strengthening relations among all nations”, he said.
The conference room boasts of state-of-the-art technology equipment, including the facility for web-casting. The furniture consists of mobile modules that allow flexible reconfiguration of the room to accommodate different United Nations bodies, including the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council. The name, "Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room", was suggested by Spain and highlights two important issues on the United Nation agenda.