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city of peace New NGOs and staff boost International Geneva statistics

Aerial view of Geneva

Geneva is home to well-known international organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN’s European headquarters (large white building in photo)

(Keystone / Fabrice Coffrini)

There are now almost 34,000 people working in so-called “International Geneva”. The increase is mainly due to new non-governmental organisations and staff, recent figures show.  

The Geneva cantonal statistics officeexternal link reported on Thursday that 26,645 people were working for 36 international organisations in the western Swiss city in March 2019 (+2.6% compared to 2018). There were two new additions last year: Interpeaceexternal link and Medicines Patent Poolexternal link

Geneva is also home to well-known agencies like the World Trade Organization (WTO),external link the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)external link and the UN’s European headquartersexternal link, which employs around 5,000.  

City of peace on tour  Many Swiss ‘know little’ about International Geneva 

Switzerland invests millions in its strategy towards “International Geneva”, yet many people in the German-speaking region are unfamiliar with it.

The statistics office said the number of international civil servants on non-permanent contracts continued to increase (+5%). They now represent 30% of all contracts, compared to less than a quarter in 2012. 

An additional 4,203 people work for permanent diplomatic missions or consulates in Geneva accredited to the UN or to other international organisations. A total of 179 states are represented. 

NGOS: a rise 

The number of NGOs based in the city continues to rise steadily. According to the canton’s International Geneva welcome service (CAGIexternal link), 420 (+5%) were registered this year, employing 3,109 people (+6%). Of these, 200 NGOs employed at least one person, while two-thirds employed less than ten. Most are active in the humanitarian, human rights and migration fields. The status of 220 other NGOs in the canton was unclear. 

The amount of money spent or invested by international agencies in Geneva continues to smash records. Last year it hit CHF6.3 million ($6.3 billion), up 1.8% compared to 2017. Over half of this amount – mostly salaries and insurance and pension payments (91% of total) – was spent or invested in Switzerland, the office said. 

After a steep rise from 2014 to 2017, the number of international conferences and meetings fell slightly to 3,236 last year, with a total of 207,147 people attending. 

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