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International Geneva Swiss approve loan for Red Cross HQ renovations

Built in 1876, the building has served as the ICRC's headquarters since 1946


Switzerland has agreed to fund the renovation of the historic headquarters building of the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. 

The Swiss cabinet on Wednesday agreed to lend CHF9.9 million ($10.3 million) towards the renovation of the ICRC's headquarters building in Geneva. The money will be reimbursed over 30 years at a preferential interest rate. 

The historic white building, known as the ‘Carlton’ and located opposite the United Nations complex, was constructed in 1876 and became its centre of operations from 1946. But it no longer meets the required safety and energy standards. 

The loan will allow the ICRC to renovate the exterior of the building. Work will begin in 2017 and is expected to take two years to complete. The ICRC will pay for internal renovations. 

The Swiss government said in a statement that the decision to lend the money was taken as part of Switzerland's host state policy to “enhance the country's attractiveness as a leading centre of global governance, in particular Geneva's position as the world humanitarian capital”. 

In March, the Swiss government confirmed its traditional long-term financial support towards the ICRC via a CHF80 million annual pledge towards its headquarters budget. In 2015, Switzerland was the third largest contributor to the ICRC's overall budget of CHF1.4 billion. 

Created in 1863, the ICRC is a key humanitarian actor employing 14,500 people in over 80 countries. It is at the origin of the four Geneva Conventions. As depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, Switzerland and the ICRC have always cultivated close ties. 

The current president is Peter Maurer, former Swiss secretary of state for foreign affairs. While the ICRC’s headquarters and field staff are increasingly international, the organisation is governed by an assembly of 17-25 Swiss nationals who oversee all of its activities and define general objectives and polices at headquarters and in the field.

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