On Geneva multilateralism centenary, Swiss FM says dialogue prevents tragedies

Switzerland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis celebrated Geneva’s 100 years as a center of multilateralism this week, saying that history has taught the world that dialogue between nations is the only way to prevent big tragedies.

Cassis was speaking at a special ceremony held in Geneva by Swiss authorities underscoring the pivotal role played by International Geneva on the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the city being a global center of multilateralism.

Along with Cassis at the ceremony was the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya, the President of the Canton of Geneva Antonio Hodgers, and Geneva’s Mayor, Sami Kanaan.

The Swiss officials signed a joint declaration reaffirming a commitment to multilateralism and its advancement, watched by Valovaya.

“History teaches us that dialogue between states is the only way to prevent the greatest tragedies afflicting humanity,” noted the Swiss foreign minister.

He said that modern multilateralism was born after World War I in 1919 with the establishment of the League of Nations under a covenant contained in the Treaty of Versailles.

The decision to put the headquarters of the League of Nations in Geneva, which already housed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international organizations, signaled International Geneva’s arrival, said Cassis.

“The biggest center of multilateralism in the world is International Geneva, which holds pride of place with the Swiss,” said Cassis.

Some 40 international organizations, diplomatic representatives from 179 countries and hundreds of NGOs, work together along with the private sector and the academic community in Geneva “to build a safer and more prosperous world”, said the Swiss top diplomat.

The 43,000 people who make up the city’s international community generate significant economic benefits for the Lake Geneva region, equivalent to nearly 1 percent of Switzerland’s GDP, said the Swiss foreign ministry.

“This joint declaration underlines our partnership and ensures that we will henceforth speak with one voice on behalf of the host state,” said Cassis.