International Organisations

The city of Geneva hosts many international and non-governmental organisations, and is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations. Switzerland is also a member of a string of international organisations and has played an active role in the United Nations since its accession in 2002.

Medical tent in a camp in Iraq
Al Obaidi Syrian refugee camp in Al Anbar Governorate © ICRC / Pawel Krzysiek

For over a century, international organisations have chosen Switzerland as their base. A total of 35 organisations are currently headquartered in Geneva, including the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation and the International Refugee Organisation. Most followed the lead of the UN, which chose Geneva as the site of its second head office. The main UN headquarters are in New York.

International Geneva is also home to some 250 non-governmental organisations with consultative status at the United Nations, 175 foreign representations and many other organisations working in the field of international cooperation, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The city also hosts dozens of international conferences and meetings each year.

Switzerland has been an active member of the UN since its accession in 2002. It was involved in the creation of a new Human Rights Council in 2006, reform of the the Security Council, drafting of an international environmental policy, providing development cooperation and humanitarian aid, promoting the rule of law and dealing with the financial and administrative affairs of the UN. Switzerland has also applied for a seat on the Security Council for the 2023-2024 period.

Switzerland is likewise a member of many other international organisations. In 1960 Switzerland became a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Since 1963 it has been a member of the Council of Europe. It joined the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1975, holding the chairmanship in 2014. Switzerland has also been a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since 1961, and joined the Bretton Woods organisations (International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) in 1992.