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Public Announcement from the United Nations Office at Geneva

“The UNOG is, and will remain open and functional, providing a space for multilateral discussion and cooperation – one of our core mandates. The Organization cannot afford to pause when the world is facing daunting challenges. Multilateralism is needed now more than ever.”

Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General UNOG

In 2023, the UN faced its worst financial shortfall in years, with the lowest dues collection in five years and only 142 Member States paying in full. This has resulted in a fragile financial outlook for 2024, severely impacting our operational capabilities. To address this, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) is tasked with reducing non-salary expenses by 42%, equating to savings of over 15 million USD, while preserving essential functions. Starting April 22nd, UNOG will implement strategic cost-cutting measures to enhance efficiency and ensure sustainability.

Measures to address the UN global liquidity crisis

Security and Safety Service

  • Access to Palais des Nations: The operating hours of the access points (gates) to the Palais des Nations have been adjusted, leading to a change in the building/office work hours. Consequently, the Palais des Nations building will now operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. This schedule is in effect on all days except weekends and UN Holidays, when the campus will be closed.

  • Travel: Only operationally imperative travel shall be approved.

  • Procurement: All procurement is suspended unless operationally required (Canine Unit support, replacement of broken/lost equipment, etc.). The purchase of uniforms, flags, etc. shall be delayed.          

  • Training: Only operationally imperative training will be conducted (e.g. Firearms, Use of Force, First Aid, etc.) with all external training involving costs to be suspended.

General Building Operations 

  • Reduction in heating (20.5°C) and in the warmer seasons, reduction in cooling (26.0 °C). 

  • Minimized outdoor lighting, except for that necessary for security and safety.

  • All equipment purchases or replacements will be stopped, except for operationally critical requirements, e.g., ICT equipment, building infrastructure equipment and other necessary supplies. 

  • All overtime needs required to maintain the compound are under review with a potential shift to regular working hours, which could cause disturbances due to maintenance/work during regular working hours. 

  • The summer season of the language classes will not be held as per past practice. 

Meetings

  • Time slots of a standard three-hour duration within official working hours (from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.[1] and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) for meetings with conference services will be strictly applied (in line with General Assembly resolution 56/242, annex).

  • Mandated meetings have absolute priority. Nevertheless, servicing capacity is significantly restrained and may not suffice to support all mandated activities during peak periods as currently planned.

  • In order to manage within current limitations, no parallel meetings of the same body can be accommodated. Servicing of informal consultations or working meetings, or meetings of regional or other groups of Member States, will be accommodated strictly on an “if available” basis.

  • For non-calendar meetings without interpretation, use of virtual self-service platforms (e.g., Microsoft Teams), and use of rooms without services will be available. 

  • Any intergovernmental decision to implement a new mandate within existing budgetary resources will be subject to the availability of adequate cash resources and capacity. 

  • Meetings must be confirmed or cancelled to the Meetings Management Section by 3 pm the Tuesday of the week prior to the scheduled start date, in line with the established practice. Late additions may not be accommodated while late cancellations would likely result in idling of conference servicing capacity or/and facilities. 

  • The approved Geneva Calendar of Conferences and Meetings in 2024 has been carefully fine-tuned. Requests for changes of dates of the calendar sessions at this stage will not be favorably considered. 

Side Events 

  • Can take place only during regular working hours. 

  • Lunchtime events in conference rooms can be accommodated only on a fully self-service basis and in automatic sound mode. UNOG staff will not be providing technical or other assistance. No layout or technical changes to the conference rooms are allowed. 

  • Events not part of the intergovernmental process, such as art exhibitions and special events openings, will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may require full cost-recovery, or be limited in number and duration.

Special Events (Exhibits, Receptions)

  • Special events not part of the intergovernmental process outside of working hours at UNOG, such as exhibit installations, cultural activities, etc., will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and can only be supported on a full cost-recovery basis. 

Interpretation Services 

  • Interpretation services are only available for calendar meetings held from 10 a.m.[2] to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

  • Meetings in the “as required” category can only be serviced with sufficient advance notice to the Division of Conference Management. Interpretation and other services will be provided strictly on an "if available" basis. 

  • All “if available” meetings, including the meetings of regional groups or other major groupings of member states, will be considered for interpretation and other services only with sufficient advance notice to the Division of Conference Management, Meetings Management Section, ideally the Tuesday of the week prior to the date of the meeting. 

Documentation

  • The timeline to turn around draft resolutions may be extended beyond the standard 48 hours up to 72-96 hours. Likewise, 24 hours for submissions on the penultimate day may need to be reconsidered.

  • The verbatim records for the Conference on Disarmament will continue to be processed but may incur longer delays.

  • Summary records will be processed as capacity permits throughout the year though a delay in issuance is anticipated. Clients are encouraged to prioritize services requests for summary records, knowing that long delays in issuance are expected.

  • Timely and simultaneous issuance of parliamentary documentation in the mandated languages, in compliance with the six-week rule (or 4-week rule for certain bodies), will be negatively impacted. Notwithstanding, every effort will be made to have documents issued before the respective meeting.

  • Agreed word counts will continue to be strictly enforced.

  • Publications will be processed if funding is available.

Audiovisual and meeting coverage services

  • All purchases or replacements of webcast and other audiovisual equipment will be stopped.

  • Limited or no coverage of some meetings, particularly of the Human Rights Council, when multiple concurrent meetings are taking place. UNIS may not be able to cover them all.

  • UNTV will operate with reduced core capacity. Webcast live streaming will be guaranteed on existing resources. There will, however, be no cue points, or “chapters”, (which are normally put in by the webcasters as the meeting is ongoing, and which contain speaker-by-speaker information associated with the relevant moments in the meeting video). Broadcast coverage will be extremely limited.   

  • Reduced services to Member States and the media on the provision of audiovisual materials and support. In particular, no photo service will be provided, including for the Human Rights Council. Videos may not be captioned, published or distributed to the requesting parties on the same day when there are multiple meetings/events occurring that day. 

UN Library and Archives Geneva

  • Library research assistance online and in-person will be temporarily reduced impacting virtual service desk response times and UN documents research support.

  • Requests for acquisitions from Member States continue to be accepted and will be purchased once the budget becomes available.

  • Archives and records management services have slowed down, due to the recruitment freeze.

  • The implementation of a digital archives preservation system is not possible, compromising the capture and preservation of UN institutional memory.


 


[1] If an earlier start time (within official working hours), the duration of the meeting must adhere to a maximum of 3 hours. E.g., if the meeting starts at 9h30, it must end at 12h30.

[2] Ibid

Measures to Address the UN Global Liquidity Crisis – FAQs (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)

Q: When is the workspace reorganization process scheduled to start?
A: The office space optimization process is scheduled to start on Monday, 22April.

Q: Which buildings are involved in the centralization effort?
A: Operations from Building B, Building E tower (floors 4 to 10), Annex Bocage, and Villa Feuillantines will be temporarily moved to different locations in Building H and S2. Some staff will also be moving to their final post-SHP locations, mostly in Building D.

Q: How will I know if I have to move and where my office will be relocated?

A: The new floorplans are currently being discussed by the Transition Team with managers and executive officers, taking teams needs into consideration. As soon as the details are available, they will be communicated to you directly by your manager.

Q: Will conference areas remain open despite operational adjustments?
A: Despite these operational adjustments, all conference areas will remain open and functional for events and meetings, adhering to the reduced operational specifications. Meetings will finish on time by 6 p.m. No extension of meeting time will be allowed.

Q: How will workspace reorganization save money?

A: We need to save 18% of our total budget in non-post costs alone. This means that our target is to save 42% of non-post expenditure. Our main expenses are related to building maintenance, in particular cleaning, lighting, and heating or cooling. The best and most efficient way to save money at this stage is to avoid these costs by centralising our activities in a limited number of buildings.

Q: What are the other cost-saving measures in place at the Palais?

A: Several cost saving measures remain in place or will be fully enforced: 

  • From Tuesday, 2 April, we will fully enforce the reduced operational hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during workdays. The Palais will not be open on weekends and holidays.
  • Following a request from Headquarters, we have implemented a hiring freeze, curtailed travel, and training, and scaled back regular services for mail, printing, and pouch services.
  • In addition, UNOG continues to uphold measures introduced in fall 2023 when faced with its budget issue, such as reduced lighting, the shutdown of escalators, and lowered heating and cooling levels.

Q: What are the temperature limits for heating and cooling?
A: The temperature limits adhere to local standards, with a maximum of 20.5°C for heating and a minimum of 26°C for cooling to maintain comfort while optimizing energy use.

Q: Why are escalators being shut down? Will elevators remain operational for all users?
A: Elevators will continue to be available for individuals with reduced mobility, supporting accessibility.

Q: How will the reduction of non-essential night lighting impact operations?
A: Turning off non-essential lighting during non-operational hours is a key strategy in reducing energy consumption.

Q: How long are the cost-saving measures expected to be in place?

A: Unless we get an influx of funds to cover the allocations in the budget, we expect these measures to be implemented until the end of the year 2024.

Q: Has there been consideration for generating additional income to alleviate the liquidity crisis?

A: The revenue generated by providing services is allocated to an extra-budgetary fund, exclusively used for specific expenses like salaries, and cannot be used for regular budget expenses.

Q: Are there plans to implement additional cost-saving measures?

A: We are currently considering the option of temporarily closing the Palais during certain weeks in the summer as a cost-saving measure. In the event of a closure, it would be necessary for all operations to transition to remote work. Should we proceed with this plan, we will ensure to notify everyone well in advance. 

Q: What is the policy on telecommuting under the new cost-saving measures?
A: There is no change to the FWA framework. As per the SG’s Bulletin on Flexible Work Arrangements – ST/SGB/2019/3 – staff may work from home for up to 3 days a week, with their manager's approval. Staff with compelling circumstances continue to have the opportunity to request special arrangements to work full-time remotely.

In the context of space optimization, staff members whose functions allow so are encouraged to fully avail themselves of FWAs, and managers are encouraged to consider favourably, whenever possible, staff’s requests.

Q: How can I apply for telecommuting or Flexible Work Arrangement?

A: UNOG staff should submit their FWA requests through the FWA App, and make sure that approved requests are recorded in Umoja. Staff of other entities should follow the normal procedure approved for their entity. The days when you work from home should be recorded in Umoja under the leave type ‘Telecommuting’ as usual.

Q: What support is available for staff telecommuting?

A: Our telecommuting policies remain unchanged, with an added emphasis on maximizing the use of telecommuting options for all staff. Services for staff will continue to be available online and in person. Staff members who need additional IT equipment at home can reach out to ICTS for assistance. 

Q: Can I telecommute from a different country?

A: Under the regular application of the FWA policy, telecommuting from a location outside your assigned duty station is only permitted if you can justify of personal compelling circumstances. However, if the Campus is temporarily closed during the summer, our instructions may be re-evaluated to potentially offer greater flexibility for working away from the duty station.

Q: How do Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) fit into the cost-saving strategy?

A: Maximizing telecommuting policies reduces the need for physical office space, thereby saving on heating, cooling, and lighting.

Q: Will there be regular reviews of telecommuting and implementation of FWA policies?

A: Yes. If the decision is made to temporarily close the Buildings on Campus during the summer, our instructions may be re-evaluated to potentially offer greater flexibility for working away from the duty station.

Q: What are the new operational hours, and why have they been adjusted?
A: The Palais will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and will be completely closed on holidays and weekends.

Q: Which services are considered essential, and will they continue to operate around the clock?
A: Services required to operate around the clock will continue; managers will inform staff providing these services accordingly.

Q: What changes have been made to event management?
A: Events extending beyond 7 p.m. will be minimized, requiring prior written approval, and permitted only on a cost-recovery basis. This ensures that all associated fees, including security, are covered, aligning with the mandate to prioritize cost savings.

Q: Is working on-site in open areas like parks or cafeterias permitted?

A: Yes, working on-site in outdoor settings or common areas, such as parks or cafeterias, is allowed with your manager's approval.

Q: What should I do if I arrive on-site and find no available desks?

A: Temporary workspaces will be set up in Building H to address this situation. A map of these spaces will be available online and at the entrance of the building once a specific area is designated. These workspaces will include desks and chairs, but please note that additional monitors or docking stations will not be available. You will need to connect to the network via Wi-Fi.

Q: What measures are in place to ensure safety with increased occupancy in buildings?

A: Any potential increase in occupancy will only occur in Building H. Building H is not yet at full capacity, and it is designed to accommodate a significantly higher number of occupants. Therefore, an increase in the number of employees in Building H is not expected to compromise safety or security.

Q: Are there special arrangements for staff with medical conditions affected by these changes?

A: Special arrangements for staff with medical conditions will continue as before. If you have specific needs, please inform your manager, who will forward this information to the Transition Team. Each special circumstance will be evaluated individually.

Q: Can accommodations for standing desks be made for medical reasons?

A: As done in the past, the UNOG Medical Service was consulted as to the ergonomic suitability of the various models of desks and chairs for Building H prior to their procurement. All furniture was found to satisfy the necessary ergonomic criteria. The Medical Service has confirmed that the desk chairs meet the necessary ergonomic criteria and height-adjustable desks are no longer recommended on medical grounds. However, the Medical Service is willing to conduct ergonomic assessments for staff members upon request. To do so, staff should contact the Medical Service at unognurses@un.org

Q: How will workspace densification issues such as noise, meeting room access, hot-desking, and locker sharing be addressed?

A: We are currently collecting requirements from entities for the number of desks, lockers and meeting rooms necessary to maintain the highest possible level of activity. The first few days and weeks will require some adjustments, but we will try to accommodate each new occupant as best as possible and implement good practices for open spaces such as limiting phone use and organizing meeting in designated spaces. 

Q: Can staff still access or retrieve items from their previous offices?

A: Staff members who are in the process of temporarily relocating do not need to remove all items from their previous offices immediately. There will be opportunities to access these offices and retrieve materials on an exceptional basis. To arrange for access, please reach out to the Security team either via email at controlcenter.security-unog@un.org or by calling +41 (0)22 917 2112

Q: Will medical services be affected?
A: Medical services will continue to operate normally. Both a nurse and a doctor will be available onsite in building S from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additionally, the UNOG Medical Service is accessible remotely. You can find more information about the Medical Service by clicking here.

Q: Are all catering options still available?
A: Yes, all catering services are currently available, including the Cafeteria, Bar Serpent, Grab n' Go, and vending machines located in Buildings E and H.

Q: What is the status of the Client Support Centre's operations?
A: The Client Support Centre is currently operational in Building H and is open during regular business hours. For additional information, please visit their website.

Q: How can badge issuance and renewal services be accessed?
A: Badge issuance and renewal services for permanent badge holders are available at the Pregny Pavilion between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Staff members, interns, and consultants with permanent badges should note that renewals should be processed at the Client Service Centre situated in Building H, which is open on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Q: What library, archives and record management services are currently available?

A: Library research assistance online and in-person will be temporarily reduced impacting virtual service desk response times and UN documents research support. For more details, please visit their website.

Q: Will SHP operations continue as usual?
A: SHP operations are set to proceed according to schedule, given that their funding sources are distinct from those of the UN's Regular Budget.

Q: How are CLM activities being adapted?
A: Most CLM activities will be moved online during the period, but some classes will still take place in-person. Please consult their website for more information.

Q: Is the SAFI shop still open at its regular hours?
A: The SAFI shop will remain open at its regular hours: Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Q: Will the banks, post, bookshop remain operational in the conferencing space of Building E?
A: The UN Bookshop, UBS, and UNFCU, situated within the conferencing area of Building E, will continue to operate during their standard business hours. You can find detailed information about hours of operation here.

Q: How will mail operations be affected?
A: Mail will continue to be distributed in Smartlockers.

Q: What are the vehicle access hours for the Pregny and Chemin de Fer gates?
A: Pregny gate is open for vehicle access on working days, between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Chemin de Fer gate is also open for vehicle access on working days.

Q: What pedestrian access options are available, and what are their hours?
A: For permanent badge holders, pedestrian and bicycles, access at Pregny is open between 7.30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on working days. Nations gate is open for pedestrians 24/7. Peace-Gate is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Peace-Gate bis is open from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. for visitors based on volume.

Please complete this form with any further questions you might have.

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