Michael Møller is the 12th Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). Mr. Møller has over 38 years of experience as an international civil servant in the United Nations. He began his career in 1979 with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and worked for the United Nations in different capacities in New York, Mexico, Iran, Haiti, Cyprus and Geneva.
In 1995-1997, he served as Senior Political Adviser to the Director-General of UNOG. Between 1997 and 2001, he was Head of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at United Nations headquarters; between 2001 and 2006 he was Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary-General, while serving concurrently as Deputy Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General for the last two years of that period.
Mr. Møller also served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus from 2006 to 2008 and was the Executive Director of the Kofi Annan Foundation from 2008 to 2011.
“Everything that is done here, in Geneva, has a direct impact on every person on this planet, in any 24 hour period”
In recognition of his efforts to deepen public understanding of the vital role of the United Nations and its partners in Geneva, Mr. Møller received a series of prizes from the City of Geneva, the Union Suisse des Attachés de Presse and, most recently, the Fondation pour Genève.
Born in 1952 in Copenhagen, Mr. Møller earned a Master’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University, United States, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.
The Director-General is responsible for all activities of the United Nations Office at Geneva. Although the work of UNOG mostly goes unseen by the public, it is vital for the United Nations and its partners. Headquartered in the historic Palais des Nations, UNOG provides the vital support necessary for the United Nations and its partners to serve the international community and communicate the Organization’s message to the public. UNOG is central to the functioning of International Geneva, with its concentration of more than 40 international organizations, 179 Permanent Missions and over 400 non-governmental organizations on the banks of Lake Geneva. The Director-General is appointed by, and accountable to, the Secretary-General.
As the representative of the Secretary-General, the Director-General undertakes special political assignments and representation as requested by the Secretary-General. He represents the Secretary-General in relations with permanent missions and observer offices based in Geneva and deals with the Swiss authorities in matters relating to the relevant privileges and immunities of staff of the United Nations system in Switzerland.
The Director-General also represents the Secretary-General in relations with regional organizations and arrangements. He maintains cooperation with the specialized agencies and programmes based in Switzerland and Europe as well as with other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and established institutions, including research and academic institutions headquartered in Europe.
The Director-General also serves as Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and is the United Nations Secretary-General’s personal representative to the Conference on Disarmament. In this capacity, he provides the Secretary-General with advice and support on the work of the Conference on Disarmament.
Since his appointment in 2013, Mr. Møller has sought to improve public outreach, break down silos and forge new partnerships. A key priority for Mr. Møller is to assist the Member States in the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations in 2015. To that end, the SDG Lab was launched in 2017 to facilitate dialogue, connect would-be partners and encourage the exchange of best practices and innovative ideas in Geneva and beyond.
Mr. Møller is also keen to foster a better understanding of the vital work done in Geneva. In 2014, Mr. Møller launched the Perception Change Project (PCP) to convey the impact of the collective work of International Geneva, the unique ecosystem of actors found on the shores of Lake Geneva. The Project now has over 100 partners, including UN and other international organizations, NGOs, permanent missions and foundations.
In an increasingly fragmented word, Geneva has become the city of choice for mediators and special envoys trying to bring parties together to prevent or end conflicts. Talks on Iranian nuclear activities, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Cyprus, to cite only the most high-profile, were hosted at the Palais des Nations in recent years. In response to this trend, the Director-General, in close cooperation with the Host Government, has worked to strengthen UNOG’s capacity to host and support peace talks through a comprehensive package of specialized services including in the fields of mediation, communications, security, protocol and conference services. Since 2015, and following an agreement with the Department of Political Affairs, a Senior Mediation Officer is serving in Geneva to support ongoing peace processes and develop partnerships with the rich network of organisations operating in the area of peace and security. The Director-General is now promoting closer collaboration within the UN family and other partners to implement the ambitious vision of Secretary-General Guterres on conflict prevention to bring together the capacities of diverse actors.
At the heart of Mr. Møller’s work is the Palais des Nations, a unique complex originally built for the League of Nations in the 1930s that now hosts or supports over 12,000 conferences every year on vital topics to the international community. Over the past 70 years, the Palais des Nations has never been completely renovated and substantial repairs are needed. Mr. Møller has spearheaded the renovation planning process and in September 2015, he confirmed that the Swiss Federal Council would provide an interest-free loan of 400 million Swiss francs for the renovation. The total cost of the renovation is estimated at 837 million Swiss francs.
Mr. Møller also strives to promote gender equality at UNOG and in International Geneva at large. In 2016, UN Geneva established its first “Policy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women”, which aims to improve gender parity, particularly in senior positions, and to combat discrimination. In addition, Mr. Møller, US Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto and Women@TheTable launched in 2014 the Geneva Gender Champions initiative, a leadership network that brings together female and male decision-makers to break down gender barriers, while generating a strong impulse for action at the highest levels. In 2016, the Geneva Gender Champions became the International Gender Champions when it expanded to New York City and other UN duty stations.