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The palace at the centre of world peace

Throughout the 20th century, the Palais des Nations building in Geneva was at the centre of global peace negotiations. A look back at its history in black and white. 

The foundations of international law were laid during the two world wars that ravaged the first half of the 20th century. The League of Nations, founded 100 years ago, put down the initial groundwork. This was followed by its successor, the United Nations, which turned 75 this year. It took on the role with European powers exhausted by war.

But the UN can only act within the limits set by its 193 member states, especially the most powerful ones. In this regard, the progress agreed between nations has been quite remarkable. Whether it is the recognition of refugee status and an agency to help them, international conventions encouraging greater respect for human rights, technical standards established in the field of telecommunications or intellectual property rights, the UN has enabled countries to come together around many different issues.


These accomplishments cannot be taken for granted, as shown by the renewed tensions between global powers in a today’s multipolar world. But as every country is a member of the UN, and civil society is given an important role, the global body remains a key institution to try to resolve the balance of powers between member states.

Correction: An image caption in the gallery erroneously stated that US President Eisenhower’s motorcade crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to San Francisco where an international conference was held for the signing of the UN Charter. It was Harry Truman. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR