Ms Olga Algayerova,
United Nations Office at Geneva
On 13 April 2017, the Secretary-General appointed Ms Olga Algayerova
of Slovakia as the next Executive Secretary of the UNECE. She took office on 1 June 2017.
Ms. Algayerova brings to the position a combination of leadership and diplomatic skills with deep knowledge of the region with its challenges and opportunities and a strong focus on building and nurturing partnerships among key stakeholders with the United Nations. Prior to her appointment, she served as Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the International Organizations in Vienna, Austria (since 2012). She was previously President, Slovak Millennium Development Goals (2010-2012); State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006-2010) and Corporate Export Manager, Zentiva International, a.s. (2004-2006).
Born in 1959, Ms. Algayerova holds a Master in Contemporary Diplomacy from Malta University, a Master in Business Administration from The Open University Business School, United Kingdom and a Dipl. in Engineer of Economy from the University of Economics Business Faculty, Bratislava.
On 12 July 2017, Ms. Olga Algayerova was sworn-in by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres.
Following the departure of Michael Møller, Ms Algayerova was appointed Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, effective 1st July 2019.
The Director-General is responsible for all activities of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Although the work of UN Geneva mostly goes unseen by the public, it is vital for the United Nations and its partners. Headquartered in the historic Palais des Nations, UN Geneva provides the vital support necessary for the United Nations and its partners to serve the international community and communicate the Organization’s message to the public. UN Geneva is central to the functioning of International Geneva, with its concentration of more than 40 international organizations, 179 Permanent Missions and over 400 non-governmental organizations on the banks of Lake Geneva. The Director-General is appointed by, and accountable to, the Secretary-General.
As the representative of the Secretary-General, the Director-General undertakes special political assignments and representation as requested by the Secretary-General. He represents the Secretary-General in relations with permanent missions and observer offices based in Geneva and deals with the Swiss authorities in matters relating to the relevant privileges and immunities of staff of the United Nations system in Switzerland.
The Director-General also represents the Secretary-General in relations with regional organizations and arrangements. He maintains cooperation with the specialized agencies and programmes based in Switzerland and Europe as well as with other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and established institutions, including research and academic institutions headquartered in Europe.
The Director-General also serves as Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and is the United Nations Secretary-General’s personal representative to the Conference on Disarmament. In this capacity, he provides the Secretary-General with advice and support on the work of the Conference on Disarmament.
A key priority for the Director-General is to assist the Member States in the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations in 2015. To that end, the SDG Lab was launched in 2017 to facilitate dialogue, connect would-be partners and encourage the exchange of best practices and innovative ideas in Geneva and beyond.
The role of the Director-General is also to foster a better understanding of the vital work done in Geneva. In 2014, the Perception Change Project (PCP) was launched to convey the impact of the collective work of International Geneva, the unique ecosystem of actors found on the shores of Lake Geneva. The Project now has over 100 partners, including UN and other international organizations, NGOs, permanent missions and foundations.
In an increasingly fragmented word, Geneva has become the city of choice for mediators and special envoys trying to bring parties together to prevent or end conflicts. Talks on Iranian nuclear activities, Syria, Georgia, Libya, Yemen and Cyprus, to cite only the most high-profile, were hosted at the Palais des Nations in recent years. In response to this trend, the Director-General, in close cooperation with the Host Government, has worked to strengthen the capacity of UN Geneva to host and support peace talks through a comprehensive package of specialized services including in the fields of mediation, communications, security, protocol and conference services. Since 2015, and following an agreement with the Department of Political Affairs, a Senior Mediation Officer is serving in Geneva to support ongoing peace processes and develop partnerships with the rich network of organizations operating in the area of peace and security. The Director-General is now promoting closer collaboration within the UN family and other partners to implement the ambitious vision of Secretary-General Guterres on conflict prevention to bring together the capacities of diverse actors.
At the heart of the Director-General’s work is the Palais des Nations, a unique complex originally built for the League of Nations in the 1930s that now hosts or supports over 12,000 conferences every year on vital topics to the international community. Over the past 70 years, the Palais des Nations has never been completely renovated and substantial repairs are needed. The Director-General has spearheaded the renovation planning process and in September 2015, he confirmed that the Swiss Federal Council would provide an interest-free loan of 400 million Swiss francs for the renovation. The total cost of the renovation is estimated at 837 million Swiss francs.
The Director-General also strives to promote gender equality at UN Geneva and in International Geneva at large. In 2016, UN Geneva established its first “Policy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women”, which aims to improve gender parity, particularly in senior positions, and to combat discrimination. In 2014 the Geneva Gender Champions initiative was launched, it is a leadership network that brings together female and male decision-makers to break down gender barriers, while generating a strong impulse for action at the highest levels. In 2016, the Geneva Gender Champions became the International Gender Champions when it expanded to New York City and other UN duty stations.