LA GENÈVE INTERNATIONALE
Opportunities for a Future “International Geneva” Carlos Lopes Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa; Alumnus and Member of the Institute’s Foundation Board
Vue du Palais des Nations. Photo Eddy MOTTAZ.
ith a remarkable history of mediation and humanitarian action, Geneva is the most recognisable symbol of Swiss international identity as a neutral centre of excellence. This reputation has served the country and the world well, but it is no longer enough to maintain Geneva as the prime global governance locus. Indeed, many still are not aware that despite New York being the Headquarters of the United Nations, and the location of its main political bodies, it is Geneva with its 200,000 visitors a year, including 3,000 Heads of State and Government and Ministers, that hosts the largest number of international organisations, governmental and non-governmental, as well as the largest number of international meetings. With the evolution of communications and new technologies many are beginning to question the utility of meetings. The reality remains, nevertheless, that we have never had as many, since globalisation is after all about becoming more inter-connected and negotiating face-to-face is still indispensable and has, theoretically,
become cheaper. Geneva should not worry then about the technologies per se but rather about the methodologies of consensus building not taking them sufficiently into account. The lessons of how massive and complex issues can be matured into a common world agenda would be useful for disarmament, climate change or trade negotiations running beyond a decade. Despite hosting CERN, one of the authors of how streams of knowledge can be brought together through networks such as the World Wide Web, Geneva seems to be exposed to a lack of synergies between so many recognisable international players that do not seem to talk to each other much. There are no longer just a few major decision-making centres in the world, but rather a multi-polarity of decisions that establish new multilateral paradigms. “International Geneva” must therefore acclimatise and position itself against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving world. What then are some of the opportunities for the future of “International Geneva”?
Globe12 - Autumn 2013