Monday, 16 September 2013

United Nations in Vienna

The Vienna International Centre is home to the 'United Nations Organisation in Vienna', or 'UNO', a complex of about a half dozen buildings totalling 120,000 square metres of office space.

The United Nations has four 'headquarters' in the world, the one here in Vienna being its third.  The first is New York, which is the political headquarters.  Geneva is the 'social' headquarters of the UN, given the Programmes administered from that location, while Vienna is the 'technical' headquarters.  There is a fourth UN headquarters, centred in Nairobi, which is the 'environmental' headquarters.

Headquartered at Vienna are the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation; the UN Industrial Development Organisation; the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs; and a few others.  

For 6 €, our tour involved first an introduction to the history of the UN presence in Vienna, then a 10-minute movie.  We were then shown a model of the Vienna International Centre, before breezing through the rotunda where an international expo was taking place.  Next, we entered the visitors area of one of the conference rooms where it looked like preparations for a conference were gathering momentum.  The tour ended where it had begun, by the large fountain flanked by the flags of all UN members.

Inside the Vienna International Centre is the UNO Vienna.
Inside the complex of buildings is a large fountain with the flags of all UN members.
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, was pleased to see us.
Our guide, to Jean's right, gave a good overview of the UNO in Vienna and how it works.  Here is a model of the buildings.
This is one of the many conference rooms, operating much the same way as elsewhere within the UN system, with member state seating arrangements, speaking protocols, and back office language interpretation procedures.
In the rotunda, an international expo was taking place on atomic energy.
This is the Ghana stand in the rotunda....
....and the UAE one.
Some of the issues the UN has grappled with for a long time...
One of the buildings within the UNO
Kurt Waldheim: the only person to have served as both a UN Secretary-General and a President of that order.

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