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About Us

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has its headquarters in the historic Palais Wilson building in Geneva, Switzerland. The five-storey and 225-room building by Lake Leman was originally constructed in 1873-75 as Hôtel National. When Switzerland joined the then newly-created League of Nations in 1920, the premises became the world body's headquarters.

In 1924, the building was renamed Palais Wilson after the death of US President Woodrow Wilson and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who played an important role in the establishment of the League of Nations during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference after World War I.

In 1937, the League of Nations moved to the purpose-built Palais des Nations on a far larger piece of land overlooking lakeside Geneva. In the following decades, Palais Wilson became the office of various government departments and, later returned to being a hotel.

By the late 1980s, the building had fallen into serious disrepair. Fires in 1985 and 1987 severely damaged parts of the building. The Swiss authorities and the private Société des Hôtels Wilson restored and renovated the building extensively from 1993 to 1998. After the renovations were completed, Palais Wilson was made available at a preferential rent to become OHCHR's Headquarters. Additional facilities at Motta Avenue, close to Palais des Nations -- the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, also house part of OHCHR.  

Open day

The UN Human Rights Office will open its Geneva headquarters, Palais Wilson, to the public on 30 September 2023, as it has done before in 2013 and 2018.