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2005: Observance of the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations

Concerts, exhibitions, seminars and an “open day” at the Palais des Nations were among the many events that the United Nations Office at Geneva organized this year with a variety of partners in observance of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations.

The events in Geneva all took place during a four-month period, beginning on 26 June 2005, the anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, and concluding on 24 October 2005, United Nations Day. A performance by the Khayaleh Chamber Orchestra at the Palais des Nations on 27 June officially launched the programme of events. The following were among the highlights of the programme.

International exhibition of contemporary art: “A Time for Renewal”

“A Time for Renewal”, an international exhibition of contemporary art devoted to the fundamental values of peace and development that the United Nations promotes, was opened on 27 June 2005 at the Palais des Nations. The artworks were selected by more than 60 Permanent Missions as being representative of their country and culture. The exhibition – which included paintings, sculptures, tapestries, video installations, photographs and other media – was on display at the Palais until 24 October 2005. A catalogue brochure of the exhibition was published.

Exhibition of photographs: “We the Peoples … families and development”

A major exhibition of 180 large-format photographs by Uwe Ommer, illustrating the diversity of families throughout the world and highlighting the Millennium Development Goals, was on display from September through November 2005 on the Quai Wilson, in front of Palais Wilson, making it easily accessible to the public at large. The photographs celebrate our common humanity and are a tribute to families everywhere. The photographs were kindly donated to the United Nations by the photographer.

Here is a selection of a few of them (pdf): Chile, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Sweden.

Open house at the Palais, 25 September 2005: “Diplomat for a Day”

More than 6,000 people visited the Palais des Nations on Sunday, 25 September 2005, for a very successful public event entitled “Diplomat for a Day”, organized jointly with the federal and local authorities and NGO partners. Intended to raise awareness of the work of the international organizations in Geneva, the event seems to have tapped into an enormous public interest in “Genève internationale”, especially the United Nations.

After having their “diplomatic passport” stamped in three locations (Palais des Nations, International Red Cross Museum and La Pastorale), visitors received a "diplomatic bag" and a tee-shirt. The programme at the Palais des Nations included debates, exhibitions, film screenings, musical performances, information stands of the UN family, and a paint workshop featuring some 200 artists and children from all over the world who painted pictures on the theme of “peace”.

Concert, 8 October 2005: “Youssou N’Dour & Friends United Against Malaria”

Internationally renowned Senegalese singer and songwriter Youssou N’Dour, joined by artists representing all five continents, performed at a major public concert attended by more than 8,000 people at the Arena concert hall in Geneva on Saturday, 8 October 2005. This unique event, organized jointly with the Fondation pour Genève, intended to raise public awareness of the fight against malaria (one of the MDGs). Télévision Suisse Romande filmed and retransmitted the concert in Switzerland on 22 October, and EBU is transmitting to their network of 70 public broadcasters, including TV5.

Youssou N’Dour, a Special Envoy of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, was joined by: Rokia Traoré, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and Amadou and Mariam from Africa; Peter Gabriel, Stephan Eicher, Axelle Red and Neneh Cherry from Europe; Gilberto Gil from South America; Anggun from Asia; and Patti Austin from the USA. Secretary-General Kofi Annan made a special guest appearance and received a standing ovation.

At the end of the concert, the sponsor presented a cheque for US$ 220,000 to purchase 50,000 bed nets for projects in Tanzania and Senegal.

Seminar on Micro-credit

On 10 and 11 October 2005, Geneva, a centre of major international organizations and a global financial hub, made the business case for micro and small business finance, thus providing a lasting contribution to the UN Year of Microcredit 2005. The symposium showcased leading investment vehicles and business models in micro and small business finance.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was among the speakers in the symposium, organized by the Centre for Applied Studies in International Negotiations (CASIN) and sponsored by the Fondation Genève Place Financière. Participants included representatives from the world of finance, business, academia and civil society.

Seminar on the future of the United Nations

A seminar on the future of the United Nations, organized by the Graduate Institute of International Studies (HEI), with the support of the United Nations and the Fondation pour Genève, took place on 20 October 2005 at HEI. Each of the three sessions, on security, development and human rights attracted an audience of 250 participants. The seminar was followed by a public debate in the evening at the University of Geneva, which was moderated by Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information and featured as panellists: Bernard Kouchner, Nafis Sadik and Professor Georges Abi-Saab.

UN Day Concert in Victoria Hall

The 60th anniversary celebrations concluded on UN Day, 24 October 2005, with the annual classical music concert at Victoria Hall offered to the United Nations by the City of Geneva. Pianist Emmanuel Ax performed with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, under the direction of Marek Janowski. The programme included Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.2 and Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony (“Pathetique”).

Virtual visit of the Palais des Nations

A virtual visit of the Palais des Nations was launched on 24 October on the occasion of United Nations Day, and is available on this web site. The visit proposes a virtual tour of the Palais des Nations, historic home of the United Nations in Geneva and the largest and most active centre for conference diplomacy in the world. The Geneva State Chancery funded the design and production of the project.