The Palais des Nations, the headquarters of the United Nations in Europe and a world centre for intergovernmental conferences, has a symbolic value often exploited by the militant groups that demonstrate on the Place des Nations. The dramatic 36-hour occupation of the premises on 22 February 1999 required the intervention of the local police and thrust the importance of improved buildings security into the spotlight.
As a result of joint efforts by the United Nations Office at Geneva, with the support of the Mission of Switzerland, the authorities of the city and canton of Geneva and the Swiss federal authorities, a plan to ensure the safety of the Palais has been developed. The plan focuses on three areas, namely the perimeter of the Palais and its entrances, traffic in the park and the courtyards, and the buildings themselves. It must be consistent with the guiding principles of openness, informality and quality of life that the city of Geneva wishes to promote in the district where the international organizations are situated. The events of 11 September 2001 in the United States of America necessitated a review of the draft project submitted by the UNOG-commissioned consortium of Bugna-Barro, Bonnard & Gardel and Bourquin & Stencek in order to incorporate additional security requirements. The adoption in June 2002 by the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly of a budget of more than 20 million Swiss francs will enable the bulk of the final project to be carried out.
The railway and Pregny gates will be refurbished as a matter of priority, with the construction at Pregny of an 850 m2 building that will include the long- and short-term accreditation service, a reception centre for guided tours and a sales area. The fences around the Palais will be modified. And lastly, the mail, pouch and shuttle services, running from the Secretariat building courtyard or E building, will move into a new building near the door 30 warehouse.
The aim of M. Ruggero Gruet, Chief to the Buildings and Engineering Section, together with the Security and Safety Section, headed by Mr. Roland De Stickere, is to provide to the staff an optimum security and to enhance their professional well-being.
Chemin de fer gate
In progress from September 2003 to March 2004
Under the plan to improve security at the Palais des Nations, the Chemin de fer gate has been assigned a service function. At this gate, all delivery trucks will be inspected under a more rigorous procedure. There will be a designated area for extended inspections, with the possibility of turning back vehicles, and access roads will lead directly to unloading quay 49 and the door 30 warehouse. This gate must also be able, on an exceptional basis, to carry out inspections of vehicles turned away from the Pregny entrance. Any attempt to break through the gate will be impossible because there will be road blockers. Deliveries will continue to be made at times that do not coincide with the arrival of Palais staff who also use this gate. Two lanes at the entrance and exit, an electronic access gate for pedestrians, a better adapted guardbooth and a more efficient control centre will make it easier to manage traffic flows. But since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a plan. The refurbishment of this entrance will respect as far as possible the trees in the vicinity and comply with the constraints of the road layout of Avenue de la Paix and Chemin Rigot. You will no longer be able to turn left from the direction of the Place des Nations; instead you must turn into the Chemin Rigot or make a U-turn at the Place Albert Thomas. However, when exiting, you may turn in either direction.
Between now and March 2004, the staff shall unfortunately have to put up with two temporary inconveniences: the works themselves and the occasional closure of the Chemin de fer gate.
Emmanuelle Gantet, ONUG.