Press Releases

17 August 2004

Vienna International Centre Celebrates 25 Years

VIENNA, 17 August (UN Information Service) -- The Vienna International Centre (VIC) was formally opened on 23 August 1979, and handed over to the United Nations (UN) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since then, the various international agencies at the VIC are engaged in a wide field of activities: the struggle against organized crime, drugs and terrorism, as well as the threat of nuclear proliferation and issues related to development and environmental protection.

“Important political events over the past quarter century, such as the liberalization process in Eastern and Central Europe, have enhanced Vienna‘s role as an international city and meeting place. The enlargement of the European Union in May 2004 further enhanced Vienna‘s geographic position in the very heart of Europe and elevates the stature of the VIC as a forum for international cooperation” said Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), in a message to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the VIC.

Some of the organizations of the United Nations system represented at the VIC are the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom). The United Nations in Vienna includes the following organizational units: the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

The first UN agency in Vienna was the IAEA, which set up its headquarters in 1957 in the former Grand Hotel near the Opera house. When in 1966, the decision was made to transfer the newly established UNIDO to Vienna, the Austrian Government offered to construct an international centre for both organizations. Vienna became one of the four UN Headquarters (along with New York, Geneva and Nairobi).

Following an international architectural competition, Austrian architect Johann Staber’s design was selected and construction work began in the spring of 1973. Six years later, the Vienna International Centre was ready. The futuristic, Y-shaped 120-metre high construction with more than 24,000 windows is one of Vienna’s modern landmarks. Some 22 million euros in annual operations and maintenance costs are borne by the organizations themselves. The Austrian economy earns about 360 million euros annually from the VIC and its international employees.

More than 4,000 employees from over 100 different countries work for the VIC-based organizations. The host-country has benefited from numerous international conferences held in the past and Vienna has strengthened its role as a place of diplomacy and the dialogue of nations. Excellent relations and cooperation with the host country have characterized the past 25 years of the United Nations in Vienna.

Although the VIC is an “extra-territorial area” the building is open to the general public. The Visitors Service offers guided tours Monday to Friday at 11:00 hours and 14:00 hours. The VIC will celebrate its 25th anniversary with an open house day on 26 October 2004, as part of its activities on the occasion of United Nations Day on 24 October.

* *** *