Division of Conference Management (Geneva)
As the second largest United Nations duty station and one of the major conference centres in the world, the United Nations Office at Geneva provides a key platform for international dialogue and diplomacy. Geneva is a key knowledge, policy and operational hub for supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development because of the diversity of stakeholders (United Nations, Member States, academia, civil society and private sector) and the wide range of thematic expertise (humanitarian, human rights, health, labour, etc.). Indeed, all the important things achieved in Geneva, whether in developing the norms and standards necessary for international cooperation or developing policies and programmes, have occurred when people have met, talked and agreed. It is the role of the Division of Conference Management to facilitate these discussions by ensuring the provision of high-quality services, both logistically and substantively. To deliver on its mandates, the Division relies on more than 550 staff members. The work of the Division is driven by its commitment to multilingualism with a focus on six main goals: quality, quantity, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, sustainability and accessibility. The vision of the Division is one of conference services at the core of a dynamic multilateral hub provided by a flexible and IT-savvy workforce that not only adapts to but also leads change.
The Division of Conference Management provides documentation services to more than 90 clients and meetings services to around 245 clients. Its main documentation clients are the Human Rights Council, the human rights treaty bodies, the Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Another major client of its meetings services is the Conference on Disarmament. Many other entities, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization, hold meetings at the Palais des Nations. In 2019, the Division serviced some 12,000 meetings of which just over 3,200 were with interpretation. Close to 80 million words were translated. Many high-level and sensitive political discussions are also organized in Geneva, as mediators and peacemakers recognize the quality of services and the comparative advantages of Geneva for discreet negotiations. The United Nations Office at Geneva has hosted talks on Cyprus, Georgia, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen.
With the increasing demand for its services and diminishing resources, the Division has created innovative and cutting-edge decision support tools to assist operational managers to ensure better planning and use of resources. It has also been at the forefront of the development of an innovative online system for managing registrations and access to conferences. The United Nations Office at Geneva will face a challenge with the implementation of the strategic heritage plan – which is aimed at renovating the facilities at the Palais des Nations and constructing a new building on the premises – as it will have a direct impact on conference rooms and other facilities. The Division is working closely with the strategic heritage plan team to ensure business continuity and mitigate any negative impact on the delivery of conference activities during the work.
The Division has already been making significant contributions to accessibility, and provides accessibility services such as sign language interpretation, captioning and braille embossing for a number of meetings including those of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It leads the work of the accessibility action team set up by the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva to implement the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy. As part of these efforts, focus has been placed on increasing awareness of staff of disability inclusion and accessibility-related issues in Geneva, with pilot training addressed to a target pool of staff. This first phase of the project will be followed by Office-wide training to mobilize a pool of trained volunteers, coordinated via focal points, to provide accessibility assistance to meeting participants.