UN Archives in Geneva

United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
Go to UN Archives in Geneva

Address: Palais des Nations, 8-14, avenue de la Paix, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 1.30 to 5.30 p.m.
Working languages: English and French.
Contact: Chief, Registry, Records and Archives Unit
Mrs. Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert
Telephone: 41-22 917 4189
Telefax: 41-22 917 0746
Email: bblukacz-louisfert@unog.ch

The creation of the Registry, Records and Archive Unit is resulted from the merger in June 2000 of the Registry and Records Units - which formed part of the Registry, Records and Mail Section of the General Services - with the League of Nations Archives Unit at the UNOG Library. The Registry, Records and Archives Unit assumes the leading role in records and archives management within the United Nations Office at Geneva.

It is composed of two Sub-Units:

1) the League of Nations Archives Sub-Unit
Contact: Bernhardine Pejovic, Office B.332, phone: 41-22 917 4193
E.Mail: bpejovic@unog.ch

2) the UNOG Registry, Records and Archives Sub-Unit
Contact: Esther Trippel-Ngai, Office PN 080, phone : 41-22 917 2634
E.Mail: etrippel-ngai@unog.ch

1) The League of Nations Archives Sub-Unit is responsible for the historical archives of the League of Nations (1919-1946) (collections of the League of Nations Secretariat and "external" collections which originated from different commissions and organs linked to the League of Nations, such as the Refugee collection), as well as private papers from prominent personalities, and also collections related to the history of the peace movement since the end of the 19th century (for example the archives from the International Peace Bureau, 1892-1951). For more detailed description of the League of Nations archives, please consult UNESCO website "Guide to the archives of intergovernmental organizations".

2) The UNOG Registry, Records and Archives Sub-Unit is responsible for the maintenance of the archives of the United Nations Office at Geneva since 1945. These include the archives of the Administration as well as those of different departments, such as the Secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), etc.

The conditions of access to the above archives by the public are outlined in the UNOG Information Circular IC/Geneva/2001/55 dated 26 November 2001:

(i) for archives and records which are already in the custody of the Registry, Records and Archive Unit: the public may have access to archives and records which have been reviewed and processed by the Unit. An agreement has been obtained from the originating office, if such office still exists, to make the records available to the public;

(ii) for new accessions: the public may have access to (1) archives and records that were accessible at the time of their creation; (2) those which are more than 20 years old and not subject to restrictions imposed by the Secretary-General; and (3) those which are less than 20 years old and not subject to restrictions imposed by the Secretary-General, on condition that the originating office has given written consent for access. BRIEF ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY OF UNOG
The United Nations Office at Geneva, which forms part of the UN Secretariat, is located in the Palais des Nations, which was originally built for the League of Nations in the early 1930s. The Palais accommodates many United Nations bodies and offices that were established, temporarily located or relocated in Geneva For instance, the Divisions of Narcotic Drugs moved to Geneva in 1956 and the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control (UNFDAC) in 1971 were both moved to Vienna in 1979; the Division of Human Rights moved to Geneva from New York in 1974 was renamed Centre for Human Rights in 1982, since 1994 it is headed by a High Commissioner and the office was subsequently renamed as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO) which was renamed as the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) in 1992 and renamed once again in 1998 as Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was established in Geneva in 1972; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1951; the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964; the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) in 1946.

Directors and Directors-General of UNOG:
Wlodzimierz Moderow, Director (1946-52), Adrien Pelt, Director (1952-57), Pier Pasquale Spinelli, Director-General (1957-68), Vittorio Winspeare Guicciardi, Director-General (1968-78), Luigi Cottafavi, Director-General (1978-82), and Erik Suy, Director-General (1983-1987), Jan Martenson, Director-General (1987-1992), Antoine Blanca (1992-1993), Vladimir Petrovsky (1993-2002), Sergei Ordzhonikidze (2002.-..).

Registry Unit Collection:
1) Old Classification System (1946-1973)

Since the establishment of UNOG in 1946, and until the introduction of the new codification system in 1973, the following file series were opened by the Registry: G. I General (1946-74); G.IIA Administration-General (1946-74); G. IIB Administration, Property and Equipment (1946-74); G.II Finance (1946-73); G. IV Legal (1946-73); G. V Documents (1946-73); G. VI Information (1946-72); G. VII Library (1946-73); G. VIII Health (1946-73); G. IX ECE Transport (1946-83), G. X ECE Economic (19 46-81).

The Divisions of Narcotic Drugs and Human Rights were based in New York and were moved to Geneva in the middle 1950s and 1974 respectively. The Division of Narcotic Drugs moved to Vienna in 1979 and their Registry files were either moved to Vienna or destroyed for lack of historical value. The Human Rights Division as well as their Registry files remain in Geneva until now.

2) New Classification System (1973-..)
As described above, the new classification system was adopted in 1973. In the new system, files are maintained and the correspondence is classified according to the subject:



Established in

G/OR Organization + Protocol 1973
DIR G/SO 100* Social Affairs 1973
DIR G/SO 200* Human Rights 1973
DIR G/SO 300* Population 1973
DIR G/SO 400* Narcotic 1973
G/LE Legal Matters 1973
G/AD Administrative Services 1973
G/FI Finance + Budget 1973
G/PE Personnel Administration 1973
G/PU Public Information 1972
G/TE Technical Assistance
(Fellowship Section)
G/SO Human Rights 1974
GB/PO Disarmament


ECE Economic Commission for Europe 1981
G/CON Contracts 1976
* Series reserved for the use of the Office of the Director-General.

These files contain official correspondence covering the activities of the UNOG Secretariat and of the bodies that entrusted processing of their correspondence to the UN Registry. In the framework of the archives reform of UNOG, this New Classification System is gradually replaced by a "records management" system which involves the establishment of file classification plans and their respective retention schedules.

In total records classified under the old and the new classification systems occupy 1,108 linear metres.

Finding aids: For Old Classification System subject and name indexes are maintained, for files under the New Classification System the codification manual by subject is used.

Records Unit Collections:
The Records Unit is keeping a total of 3,758 linear meters of records, 333 reels of microfilm (16 mm x 30.5 cm) of the following series belonging to the old Registry classification system: G. Ill Finance, G. IV Legal questions, G. V Documents, G. VII Library, G. X Economic questions (ECE) and G. XIV Non-governmental organizations. Additional microfilms on the Division for Human Rights in New York (1956-1969), papers from Secretary-General U Thant (1961-1971), from Office for Special Political Affairs, Mr. Ralph J. Bunche and the Executive Assistant to the Secretary General Mr. Andrew Cordier (1954-1961) also exist.

International Bureau for Declaration of Death (IBD): Applications for judgment and court decisions, 1952-73, and the index to the IBD bulletin are kept in 56 boxes (9.5 linear meters). This material was entrusted to the custody of UNOG Archives by Dr. Schnitzer, who was responsible for IBD. As IBD, during its existence (1952-73), was mainly involved in receiving requests about persons missing during the Second World War, the transmission of these requests to a tribunal for a decision, and the issuance of a declaration of death. All of the material is divided into two categories, 'requests' and 'decisions'.
a) requests - filed geographically and thereunder in accordance with the number of the requests.
b) decisions - filed geographically and thereunder according to the decisions number (1 to 5.999).

These cases were filed according to country (Belgium, Germany, Israel, and Italy).

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the World Refugee Year (1955-60): 12 linear meters. Individual non-active personnel files of the UNOG Personnel Service, personnel files of translation staff for the 2nd International Conference on the Pacific Usage of the Atomic Energy (1961). Records of UNOG Sections and Divisions. Finding aids: All accessions are classified according to a record groups system, for example group 7 equals to Personnel Service, group 9 represents Finance Services. Personnel files are filed in alphabetical order.

The Registry, Records and Archives Unit is in the process to computerize the description and indexing of the League of Nations and the UNOG Archives which will be made available as on-line finding aid for public researchers.

The United Nations Library at Geneva was established in 1919 by the League of Nations and taken over by the United Nations in 1946. With holdings of over one million volumes and four million United Nations documents, the Library has comprehensive collections of monographs and serials in international, constitutional and administrative law, as well as codes in force for many countries, gazettes and parliamentary debates. In addition, there are special collections in political science, economic and social studies. The Library also receives official publications from member states.

In July 1997, the Library inaugurated its first Cyberspace to provide an electronic forum for representatives of Permanent Missions to the United Nations, conference delegates and researchers. The Library web site address is: http://www.unog.ch/library/start.htm.

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