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Civil society Over 750 NGOs now active in International Geneva

View from Geneva's Jet d'eau fountain towards the UN headquarters

View from Geneva's Jet d'eau fountain towards the UN headquarters and other international organisations based north of the city centre

(Keystone/ Valentin Flauraud)

New research has identified over 750 non-governmental organisations currently operating in so-called International Geneva, mostly in the areas of peace, justice and human rights. 

The study by the University of Genevaexternal link, which was carried out on behalf of the Swiss foreign ministry and Geneva authorities, recorded 759 NGOs active in International Genevaexternal link – the name given to the district in the north of the Geneva and the city's long tradition of hosting international organisations. 

Of these, 71% have a headquarters in the Swiss city. 

The number of NGOs reported on Thursday is much higher than previously published figures. The total includes all NGOs with proven activities or links to International Geneva, but do not include charities or small organisations with a more local focus. 

Geneva is home to the United Nations’ European headquarters, as well as 37 international organisations, including the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.  

+ International Geneva continues to expand

Some of the better-known NGOs identified in the study include Médecins sans Frontières, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the World Council of Churches. 

More justice, less environment 

The researchers found that NGOs in Geneva generally focus on six main fields of activity: justice, peace and human rights (47% of NGOs); education, gender equality and employment (42%); combating poverty and hunger (31%); knowledge and innovation (25%); health (22%); and the environment (21%). 

In all, they employ 3,146 staff, and entail 2,543 full-time posts. The NGOs vary considerably in size and structure, with most employing less than ten people, while others operate on a voluntary basis. 

Between 2013 and 2017, half of these NGOs received funding support from the Swiss federal government, or from the Geneva cantonal or city authorities. 

Last year, the amount of money spent or invested by Geneva-based international organisations and NGOs hit a record CHF6.2 billion ($6.22 billion)external link, up 3.6% compared to 2016. Over half of this amount – including salaries and insurance and pension payments – was spent or invested in Switzerland.  


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