15 September 2012
UN Open Day 2012
Remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
“Palais des Nations Open Day 2012”
Palais des Nations, Ariana Park
Saturday, 15 September 2012 at 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Permanent Representative of Switzerland,
Mr. State Councillor,
Madam State Chancellor,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Palais des Nations for our Open Day. Today is very special for us. It provides us with the opportunity to share with the public what the United Nations does for people across the globe. We often refer to UNOG as a part of ‘International Geneva’. This is true. But, it is more than just a part of ‘International Geneva’. It belongs to all of you. We feel that we are part of this country, this canton, this city.
I would like to express my utmost appreciation to the City and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, and the Swiss Confederation for their part in organizing this remarkable event. I also deeply thank the Fondation pour Genève and the Government of Qatar for their generous contributions.
I welcome this occasion to thank the Swiss authorities for their continued support for the United Nations in Geneva. The most recent demonstration of this support was the donation of 50 million francs towards making the Palais des Nations more energy efficient. Now, we stand before a practical application of the donation, this solar-powered recharging station for electric cars. During our tour, you will also see another unique demonstration of Swiss support - 10 working beehives in Ariana Park. What better way to promote sustainable energy and sustainable agriculture, here on our grounds!
Since becoming a member 10 years ago, Switzerland has played an increasingly substantial role across the United Nations agenda, especially in human rights, peacebuilding, mediation and sustainability. With their support – both before and after membership – Geneva has become one of the most active centres for multilateral diplomacy in the world. In 2011 alone, UNOG serviced over 10,000 meetings. And nearly 100,000 people visited the Palais des Nations.
It is therefore highly appropriate to celebrate the 10th anniversary by opening our doors to our community. With this initiative, we strengthen the ties between local and international Geneva.
I am also extremely pleased that we – the entire UN family – join together on the International Day for Democracy and to mark the Year of Sustainable Energy for All. We come together – as one – to confront the challenges before us.
Today, visitors will discover the activities and diversity of the United Nations in Geneva and enjoy the historic grounds. Thanks to the involvement of Member States, people will experience a cultural journey across our world, with dances, concerts, fashion shows and exhibitions. But, most importantly, people can join us for a day out, getting to know the work of the UN family with their own families!
I thank all of you for being with us on this beautiful day. I hope that you embrace all that the United Nations, our host country, canton and city, and our Member States have to offer.
Thank you very much.