Australia in Switzerland
Bern and Geneva
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

United Nations

Australian Permanent Mission to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva

Australia was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and has been active in the organisation ever since. Australia believes the UN plays a critical role in resolving global problems that no nation can resolve alone. Australia is determined to work through the UN to enhance security, promote economic and social well-being, and strengthen environmental protection, worldwide.

The Australian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva is one of five posts (along with diplomatic missions in New York, Vienna, Rome and Nairobi) representing Australia's interests in the UN system.

The UN’s operations in Geneva cover a vast spectrum, and many UN bodies and specialised agencies are based in Geneva. This includes the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Geneva is a global humanitarian centre for coordinating operations worldwide, as well as setting international standards. Also headquartered in Geneva are important organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Our role

The role of the Australian Mission to the United Nations is to pursue Australia’s interests in the United Nations through international diplomacy. This can involve negotiating, advocating and promoting Australia’s policies, as well as working with countries across the world to achieve common objectives. The Australian Mission supports and works with UN agencies to assist them to fulfill their potential to promote development and peace, respond to humanitarian challenges and protect human rights. Australia is a major donor to many of the organisations based in Geneva and the Australian Mission oversees the strategic direction of these organisations in line with our interests.

Follow our work on Twitter: @AustraliaUN_GVA

The Australian Mission to the UN in Geneva works in the following areas:

Human Rights

Australia believes that protection and promotion of human rights is vital to global efforts to achieve lasting peace and security, and freedom and dignity for all. Australia’s commitment to human rights reflects our national values and is an underlying principle of Australia’s engagement with the international community. Australia served its inaugural membership to the Human Rights Council during the term 2018-2020.

The Mission represents Australia at the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary mechanisms and advocates strongly for our national positions and policies. Australia considers the Human Rights Council should address all violations of human rights – whenever and wherever they occur. Australia is a party to all major human rights treaties and the Mission engages with the bodies established under these treaties to promote their universal adherence and implementation. The Mission also works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

For more information on Australia’s engagement with the Human Rights Council and subsidiary mechanisms, including Australia’s priorities as a member of the Council and national statements during its membership, please see the  Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


Australia provides funding and support to UN, other specialised agencies and international organisations to assist in their responses to humanitarian crises and to aid people displaced by conflict. The Mission directly engages agencies headquartered in Geneva, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); and the Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). The Mission’s mandate is to help strengthen the effectiveness of the multilateral system in the humanitarian and health sectors, promote Australia's priorities areas for assistance (such as the Indo-Pacific region and disability inclusive aid) and ensure they deliver appropriate and effective humanitarian action.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is responsible for leading the Australian Government’s response to international humanitarian crises. DFAT's Humanitarian Strategy articulates how DFAT will respond to humanitarian crises and ensures our humanitarian investments and policy engagements align with and support Australian Government policy.

For more information on these issues, please see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


Australia is a major donor and strong supporter of international efforts to promote global health outcomes, with a particular focus on the Indo-Pacific region. The World Health Organization (WHO) is Australia’s major partner on global health matters. WHO has the responsibility for normative standard-setting globally and coordinates the responses to emerging health challenges, such as pandemic influenza. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed critical gaps in global health security. These need to be addressed in order to immediately respond to COVID-19 and prepare for further waves of infections. They also require attention in order to ensure the world is better prepared to prevent and manage future disease outbreaks. This priority is an important part of the Mission's engagement with the WHO.

Other important health-related organisations in Geneva which the Mission supports include UNAIDS; The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations). In collaboration with these organisations and countries from around the world, the Mission works to tackle global health challenges and works towards realising the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information on these issues, please see the Department of Health website and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


Australia is a steadfast partner in UN efforts to safeguard international security. Australia believes that disarmament and arms control serve our national security by promoting global and regional stability. We are party to all major disarmament treaties, including those prohibiting weapons of mass destruction and inhumane conventional weapons. Australia is committed to realising the vision set out in these treaties and is a key donor on combating the effects of landmines, cluster munitions and the proliferation small arms and light weapons.

Geneva is an international centre of disarmament diplomacy. The principal multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, the Conference on Disarmament, is based in Geneva. In addition, many disarmament and arms control meetings take place here, such as meetings under the Arms Trade Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Because of this, many non-governmental organisations, think-tanks and lobby groups on disarmament are headquartered in Geneva.

For more information on these issues, please see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


Australia engages in a range of multilateral processes and forums on cyber and critical technology issues. This engagement demonstrates our commitment to working with international partners in the multilateral system to ensure the design, development and use of critical technologies, including cyberspace, is consistent with international law and fosters a peaceful and stable international environment. In Geneva, the Australian Mission advances these objectives at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and in the Human Rights Council.

For more information on these issues, please see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Migration and refugees

Australia is a major country of humanitarian resettlement and a key donor in this field. Australia has an important interest in promoting the lawful and orderly movement of people and strengthening the international protection framework for refugees and displaced persons throughout the world. To promote this, the Australian Mission works closely with key multilateral stakeholders such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees and the Global Forum on Migration and Development.

For more information on these issues, please see the Department of Home Affairs website.


The Australian Mission advocates Australia’s interests in the International Labour Organization (ILO). Australia has been a member of the ILO since its establishment in 1919 and plays an active role in supporting the mandate of the organisation to set minimum international standards relating to labour. Within the UN system, the ILO has a unique tripartite structure with workers and employers participating as equal partners with governments in its work. Australia is part of the Asia-Pacific Government Group of ILO members.

We also work in Geneva to support efforts to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Our vision is a future where no one is subjected to human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, and the human rights of all are valued equally.

For more information on these issues, please see the Attorney General's Department website and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.


The Australian Mission engages with environment-related fora based in Geneva and Gland, including the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).  The following bodies and Conventions are headquartered in Geneva: the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; the Rotterdam Convention on Trade in Hazardous Chemicals; the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

For more information on these issues, please see the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Other specialised agencies and organisations in Geneva

The Mission engages with a wide range of specialised agencies headquartered in Geneva or Bern, such as the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Australia is a strong supporter of the mandates of these organisations and encourages a focus on the specific needs of the Indo-Pacific region. The Mission works closely with the organisations to ensure good corporate governance, fiscal responsibility and efficient programming.

Are you Australian and working in the multilateral system in Geneva?

If you are an Australian working in the multilateral system in Geneva (UNOG Secretariat, UN agencies or other related international multilateral organisations and NGOs), please email us your contact details on [email protected] and we will keep you posted on upcoming events for Australians in the multilateral system.

Please ensure your email has the subject line "Australians in Geneva" and that you include the following key details.

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Organisation
  • Position/Title
  • Department
  • Professional email

For further information on UN activities in Geneva, please see the United Nations Office in Geneva website.

Follow our work on Twitter: @AustraliaUN_GVA

Please click here for contact information.