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Fondation pour Genève prize
2017 Prize awarded to Michael Møller, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Friday 24th March 2017 at 18h00, Victoria Hall, Geneva

“Michael Møller, better than anybody embodies the famous ‘Geneva Spirit’. He is one of those people for which words such as reform, courage and unrelentless work, are not in vain.”

Ivan Pictet, president of the Fondation pour Genève

This year marked the 15th anniversary of Switzerland’s entry to the United Nations, hence, the Foundation Board felt Michael Møller, a fervent advocate of an International Geneva a suitable choice for this year’s Fondation pour Genève Prize. Møller become Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva for his indefatigable efforts in creating partnerships within International Geneva to improve communication and situate it in a global context.

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Michael Møller’s “spirit of Geneva” is principally understood through his actions in these three domains:

  • Møller has attempted to foster stronger relations between the United Nations, international organizations, and the Genevan and Swiss Civil Societies by underlining the advantages associated with a more International Geneva.
  • He also pioneered repair works on the Palais des Nations, an architectural and artistic Genevan monument, which revitalised the role of the Office of the United Nations at Geneva notably the dynamics of its intra-relations, and those with the ONUG.
  • Lastly, Møller renewed the sense of communication in the United Nations by amplifying research efforts focused on researching peace, conflict resolution, international mediation, multilateralism, and human rights. As of result of his unrelenting dedication, Geneva is now an exemplary model for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, a project developed by the United Nations. Møller additionally transformed the general perception of the Organization of the United Nations, by demonstrating how it impacts our day-to-day lives. He raised awareness and was a motivating influence for his collaborators and partners, who remain essential cogs of multilateralism even at times when it received the most doubt.

On March 24th, Mr. Møller graciously accepted the 2017 Fondation pour Genève Prize during the ceremony at the Victoria Hall which featured prominent figures such as Kofi Annan, previous Secretary General of the United Nations, François Longchamp, President of the Council of the State and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Guillaume Barazzone, Mayor of the City of Geneva, Sabrina Dallafior, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland at the United Nations, as well as various other international organizations.

More than 1000 invitees, including 800 high dignitaries were present at the ceremony to attend the laureate’s conference about “An International Geneva more is necessary than ever” to show their gratitude to Møller for his extensive efforts in building bridges between Geneva and the international sphere, and his promotion of the United Nations and multilateralism.

Kofi Annan commended Møller for his work, noting that “When the world is undergoing rapid change, our institutions cannot remain static, and therefore necessitate the type of reform and revitalization that can only be executed by creative and original leadership such as Michael Møller’s. The innovations he carried out brought the United Nations and the people which it serves together as one”.

Very moved by the praises he received, Michael Møller concluded the evening by saying: “Switzerland is the largest yet smallest country in the world. Geneva is the largest yet smallest city in the world. Our relationship with the United Nations isn’t just one of a host country’s, it’s a strong, effective, and enduring one. We could only dream for more.” He also took time to thank all the partners within the International Geneva community who granted him such an honorary distinction. “It’s thanks to those people that I am able to accept this prize with such pride, gratitude and humility.”