On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly in New York approved the renovation project for the Palais des Nations complex in Geneva. Work will commence in 2017 and is estimated to cost CHF836.5 million ($846.6 million).
Built in the 1930s the Geneva headquarters of the UN was never fully renovated. The UN has been seeking funds to make improvements such as fixing leaky roofs, removing asbestos and improving safety standards. A proposal entitled Strategic Heritage Plan was presented to UN member countries requesting approval for a complete renovation of the complex, as well as the construction of a new building. This would allow the complex to host an additional 700 staff and improve disability access. Construction and renovation work is expected to be finished by 2023.
The Palais des Nations hosts around 10,000 UN employees, more than the official headquarters in New York. It is the jewel in the crown of what is known as “International Geneva” and is the reason why Switzerland is a global hub for international diplomacy and human rights. In September, the Swiss government and the canton and city of Geneva offered an interest-free loan of CHF400 million for renovation work pending approval of their respective parliaments.
“Ensuring that the UN has modern, functional headquarters is essential to strengthen Geneva's position as a city in which solutions to the global challenges of our time are sought,” said a Swiss government statement on Thursday.