Not less than 22 international organizations, including eight UN agencies, have their headquarters in Geneva. Several tens of thousands of jobs are directly or indirectly created by the presence of these organizations and the representations of 162 different states in Geneva.
It is in this environment, that you are likely to overhear conversations in English on a bus, see lots of cars with corps diplomatique licence plates and occasionally meet famous politicians on the street. This is what Genevans call „la Genève internationale“.
Many trace it back to Geneva‘s history as a haven for Protestant leaders, such as John Calvin, during the Renaissance. However, nation states did not widely appear before the 19th century, and thus, neither did international relations.
It is rather the foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863, that marked the beginning of Geneva‘s major role in humanitarianism and its international implementation.
The subsequent Geneva Conventions built the framework for the law of war and established the city as a hub for multilateral cooperation. This, besides Switzerland being a neutral country, was one reason to choose Geneva as the host location of the League of Nations in 1919.
Ivo Näpflin, EurasiaNews, August 8, 2008