The United Nations in Geneva - before and during the pandemic
Since March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the European headquarters of the United Nations and international organisations in Geneva to remain almost empty.
This content was published on February 18, 2021 - 09:00
Born in England, I've lived in Switzerland since 1994. I trained as a graphic designer in Zurich between 1997 – 2002. More recently I have moved on to work as photo editor and joined the team at swissinfo.ch in March 2017.
Abdelhafidh began working for swissinfo.ch in 2008. Over the years, he has done features and reports on various topics invoving life in Switzerland, particularly immigrant and refugee issues, education at different levels, tourism, and Islam in Switzerland.
With the exception of a few organisations and institutions that continue to operate in person, such as the UN Human Rights Council, which is currently conducting its Universal Periodic Review process, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the WHO and some permanent missions to the United Nations, most day-to-day business and multilateral activities are conducted online.
March 2020 marked a major turning point for International Geneva. Due to the partial lockdowns and restrictions in spring and winter imposed by the Swiss authorities, almost all staff have worked from home and international conferences moved to the internet, via videoconferencing applications and platforms.
These photos reflect the sharp contrast between the situation at the UN Palais des Nations complex in Geneva before and after the arrival of the virus.