The Swiss cabinet has agreed to increase its budget for International Geneva by over a third. This is part of a long-term strategy to consolidate Switzerland’s role as a host state for international organisations.
In its plans submitted to parliament for approval, the government is seeking a bigger budget for the 2016-2019 period totalling CHF117.2 million ($122 million) - an increase of CHF44.8 million.
The money should go towards “improving building and technological infrastructures and on fostering better interaction between the various international and national actors”, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.
The move is in response to a parliamentary motion, “Strengthen International Geneva and Switzerland as places to host international and multilateral diplomacy”, which was backed by 120 parliamentarians and is in line with foreign policy strategy for 2012–2015, in which the cabinet aims to promote Switzerland's long-term role as host state.
Geneva is home to the headquarters of 32 international organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "International Geneva", as it is known, is worth around CHF3 billion a year to the canton in taxes and spending power.
In all, some 40,000 international diplomats and civil servants are based in Geneva; in addition there are around 2,400 staff working for 250 non-governmental organisations. Around 8,500 staff work for the United Nations in Geneva, which is the largest concentration of UN personnel in the world. There are also 169 permanent diplomatic missions to the UN.
swissinfo.ch and agencies