Palace of Nations

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Palace of Nations
Palais des Nations
UN Building A Southern Lawn.jpg
Building A of the Palace of Nations.
General information
Architectural style Classicism
Location Geneva, Switzerland
46°13′36″N 6°08′26″E / 46.22667°N 6.14056°E / 46.22667; 6.14056
Coordinates 46°13′35.63″N 6°8′25.72″E / 46.2265639°N 6.1404778°E / 46.2265639; 6.1404778Coordinates: 46°13′35.63″N 6°8′25.72″E / 46.2265639°N 6.1404778°E / 46.2265639; 6.1404778
Construction started 1929
Completed 1938
Owner United Nations, previously the League of Nations
Design and construction
Architect Carlo Broggi
Julien Flegenheimer
Camille Lefèvre
Henri Paul Nénot
Joseph Vago
A conference room in the Palace of Nations

The Palace of Nations (French: Palais des Nations, pronounced: [palɛ de nɑsjɔ̃]) in Geneva, Switzerland, was built between 1929 and 1938 to serve as the headquarters of the League of Nations. It has served as the home of the United Nations Office at Geneva since 1946 when the Secretary-General of the United Nations signed a Headquarters Agreement with the Swiss authorities, although Switzerland did not become a member of the UN until 2002.

In 2012 alone, the Palace of Nations hosted more than 10,000 intergovernmental meetings.[1]


An architectural competition held in the 1920s to choose a design for the complex described the project as follows:

The Palace, whose construction is the object of the competition, is intended to house all the organs of the League of Nations in Geneva. It should be designed in such a way as to allow these organs to work, to preside and to hold discussions, independently and easily in the calm atmosphere which should prevail when dealing with problems of an international dimension.

A jury of architects was selected to choose a final design from among three-hundred and thirty-seven entries but was unable to decide on a winner. Ultimately, the five architects behind the leading entries were chosen to collaborate on a final design: Julien Flegenheimer of Switzerland, Camille Lefèvre and Henri-Paul Nénot of France, Carlo Broggi of Italy and József Vágó of Hungary. Donations from League members were used in the interior.

After its transfer to the United Nations, two extensions were added to the building. In the early 1950s, three floors were added to the "K" building, and the "D" building was constructed to house temporarily the World Health Organization. The "E" building (or "New" Building) was completed in 1973 as a conference facility. With the additions, the complex is 600 metres long, with 34 conference rooms and 2,800 offices.

In December, 1988, in order to hear Yasser Arafat, the United Nations General Assembly moved its 29th session from the United Nations Headquarters in New York to the Palace of Nations.[2]


Ariana Park with the Lake Geneva in the background.
The armillary sphere presented to the United Nations by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

The Palace is located in Ariana Park, which was bequeathed to the City of Geneva in 1890 by Gustave de Revilliod de la Rive, on three conditions: that the park always remain accessible to the public, that he be buried in the park, and that peacocks roam freely on its grounds, which they do to this day. The park also contains a 1668 chalet.

Beneath the Palace of Nations's foundation stone is a time capsule containing a document listing the names of the League of Nations member states, a copy of the Covenant of the League, and specimen coins of all the countries represented at the league's Tenth Assembly. A medal showing the Palace of Nations with the Jura Mountains in the background was struck in silvered bronze.[3]

The building overlooks Lake Geneva and has a clear view of the French Alps.

The Palace and its buildings constitute the second-largest building complex in Europe after Versailles.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  • Joëlle Kuntz, Geneva and the Call of Internationalism. A History, éditions Zoé, 2011, 96 pages (ISBN 978-2-88182-855-3).


  1. ^ (French) Simon Petite, "Rénovation du Palais des Nations : vote crucial", Le Temps, Monday 23 December 2013, p. 5.
  2. ^ (French) "Genève renoue avec sa tradition de ville de paix", Le Temps, Thursday 16 January 2014.
  3. ^ McMenamin, M. (2011). "A medal depicting the Palace of Nations and the Jura Mountains". Numismatics International Bulletin 46 (3-4): 55. 

External links[edit]