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Inauguration of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room

“Secretary-General inaugurates the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations”

On 18 November 2008, the Secretary-General, together with the King and Queen of Spain, inaugurated the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, one of the largest conference rooms at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (Secretary General's remarks). The complete renovation and refurbishment of the former Room XX with 754 seats represents one of the biggest ever single donations to the United Nations. The main feature of the renovated room is a ceiling sculpture by the prominent contemporary Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. The new dome consists of many layers of paint of different colours, composed of pigments from across the globe and sprayed onto the ceiling to generate stalactites. The sculpture is groundbreaking both artistically and technically.

Accepting the gift on behalf of the United Nations, the Secretary-General noted that the room could be thought of as a metaphor for the work of the Organization and would be a place where all countries, large and small, developed and developing, could air their grievances, highlight their aspirations and, in the end, find consensus. He referred to the techniques used in creating the dome and encouraged all to bring the same sense of innovation to the work that would take place in the room. “Let us not settle for the status quo”, he said, “but instead be visionary, creative and bold”.

The President of Switzerland, the President of the Government of Spain, the Prime Minister of Turkey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, the Director-General and Mr. Barceló also spoke at the inauguration ceremony, which was attended by some 700 invited guests. Thanking the Government and people of Spain, as well as the ONUART Foundation, for the generous contribution to the work of the United Nations, the Director-General of UNOG said that the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room would make an important difference to the Organization’s daily work. “Through its innovative design and its compelling symbolism, this room will contribute to strengthening relations among all nations”, he concluded.

The renovation and refurbishment, as well as the dome sculpture, have been funded through the ONUART Foundation, a Spanish non-profit, public-private partnership aimed at promoting the use of contemporary Spanish art to facilitate dialogue and multilateralism through the United Nations system in Geneva (www.fundaciononuart.es).

The technology and equipment installed in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room are state-of-the art, including for web-casting. The furniture consists of mobile modules that allow flexible reconfiguration of the room to accommodate different United Nations bodies, including ECOSOC and the Human Rights Council. Suggested by Spain, the room is named the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room to highlight two important issues on the United Nations agenda.

By courtesy of the Foundation ONUART
and Antonia and Agusti TORRES