Ignazio Cassis inaugurates new extension Palais des Nations and opens Geneva Peace Week

Bern, 01.11.2021 - Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), was in Geneva today. Alongside UN Geneva's Director-General Tatiana Valovaya and the Geneva authorities, he inaugurated Building H, the new extension of the Palais des Nations. Later in the day, Mr Cassis kicked off the Geneva Peace Week, an event that brings together many international cooperation actors working to promote peace and conflict prevention.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis inaugurated the new extension of the Palais des Nations today, together with the Director-General of UN Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya and the Geneva authorities. The new Building H, which incorporates a number of Swiss made technological innovations, meets very high environmental norms and features modular workspaces. "When we laid the building's cornerstone in 2016, our aim was to provide a suitable setting for sustainable and forward-looking multilateral diplomacy. And we have succeeded," said Mr Cassis, delighted. He also took this visit as an opportunity to engage in bilateral discussions with Ms Valovaya, which focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on International Geneva, the 20th anniversary of Switzerland's UN membership in 2022, and Switzerland's support for UN Geneva's strategic heritage plan.

Geneva, a centre of innovation in diplomacy

Cassis then opened the proceedings of the Geneva Peace Week, also alongside Tatiana Valovaya. In his speech, he welcomed the opportunities created by digitalisation: "Technological innovation can play an important role in preventing and resolving conflicts. Digital tools help, for example, to anticipate the causes of war, to document violations of international humanitarian law, and to find missing persons." Cassis highlighted the innovative solutions provided by Geneva-based organisations, such as the cybermediation tools developed by Swisspeace, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, DiploFoundation, and the United Nations. Geneva hosts a great number of organisations committed to peace and facilitates cooperation with academia and the private sector. As such, the city serves as a location particularly conducive to promoting innovation in diplomacy. "Switzerland is seeking a 2023–24 seat on the Security Council, and this spirit of dialogue and innovation is an example of what the country wants to contribute there," said Mr Cassis.

The eighth edition of the Geneva Peace Week is focusing on four themes: the transformation of conflicts caused by climate change; inclusion and the fight against inequalities as instruments of peace; responding better to security risks; and using new technologies to promote peace.

Common commitment to International Geneva

Switzerland has an overriding interest in preserving and further strengthening Geneva as a centre for global governance. Switzerland's Federal Administration is pursuing this objective by working hand in hand with the cantonal and communal authorities. In order to coordinate this effort, Cassis met this morning with those responsible for this dossier at the local level – Geneva State Councillor Nathalie Fontanet and Administrative City Councillor of Geneva Sami Kanaan.


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