International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International judicial Academy of the International Law Institute, Washington, D.C.
with circulation assistance from the American Society of International Law

Winter 2018 Issue

Judicial Tourism


Geneva, Switzerland: Worldwide Center for Diplomacy and Peace Capital of the World


By: James G. Apple, Editor-in-Chief, International Judicial Monitor

Geneva, Switzerland, despite a population of 200,000 (in a canton with a population of almost 500,000) has high rankings in several categories by which cities worldwide  are measured. It is ranked third in the quality of life category; ranked 15th as an international financial center; seventh in the “most expensive city” category; is the most compact metropolis in the world;  contains the oldest international school in the world and College Calvin, the oldest secondary public school in the world,  and hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world. For judges, court officers, lawyers, and rule of law officials, a visit to Geneva provides inspiration and appreciation for global activities of the international law community.

Geneva is also one of the oldest cities in the world. Its history dates to Roman times; it is mentioned in Caesar’s Commentaries. It was captured by Roman armies in 121 B.C.E. It is perhaps best known for the role in played in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. John Calvin, one of the fathers of the Reformation, became the spiritual leader of it and made it his home. Consequently it became a hotbed of Protestantism when that movement was in its infancy. Other Protestant leaders also made Geneva the base for their religious activities, including John Knox and Theodore Basel, both of whom appear on the Reformation Wall monument in the city.

Culturally 82 buildings in the city are listed as Swiss Heritage Sites of national significance. These include churches, libraries, hotels, palaces, museums and theatres as well as government and international organization headquarters.  Geneva hosts the Geneva Festival each summer. The Museum of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent is worth a visit, as is the Palace of Nations, located in the building which at one time housed the offices of the League of Nations.

The United Nations organizations that have their headquarters in Geneva are:           

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Labour Organization (ILO)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Geneva is also the headquarters of the International Red Cross, which maintains a museum and visitor center in the city.

Another site, near Geneva worth visiting is CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) which is the home of the Hadron Collider,  which was used in the search for, and the discovery of, the Higgs Boson, allegedly the last of the particles in an atom. This particle was the basis of a Nobel Prize in Physics for the predictor of this particle, Professor Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh.

Not only does Geneva play host to many international organizations, it serves as the international or European headquarters for many major corporations, including Japan Tobacco International, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Vitol, Novartis, Mercuria Energy, Caterpillar, Dupont, and Cargill. It has long been a center of watchmaking.

The city provides extensive public transportation for the visitor, including bus, trolley bus, and tram.

ASIl & International Judicial AcademyInternational Judicial Monitor
© 2018 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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