The Geneva School


A joint Nordic educational initiative
An international exchange
A borderless experience

The Geneva School provides its participants with a unique opportunity to meet people from workers’ organisations from all parts of the world at the International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva. The school was established in 1931 and has since then worked to enhance knowledge of international cooperation and global issues and to promote trade union activities at both the national and international level.

It is a great opportunity for young, active members of Nordic trade union and popular movements to learn to understand and build a network in a global context. During the course, the participants are given an insight into the opportunities of the trade union and popular movements to exert an influence in a globalised world and learn more about international cooperation and international sets of rules, the ILO and other international organisations.

Welcome to the Geneva School!

Genevèskolan - arbete i kommitté

Upcoming courses

The Geneva School will take place in April-June 2024. The application has now closed, but will open again in december for the Geneva School 2025.

Course manager

Principal: Peter Waldorff
Teacher: Marc Wiggam 


Course structure/contents

The school’s outreach activities consist of an annual course which gathers participants from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. During the UN conference of the ILO in Geneva, the participants follow the parts of the conference that concern the activities of the workers’ side on work-related issues.


Three modules of the course – constituting a whole

The Geneva School consists of three modules. Attendance at all modules of the course is compulsory.

Part 1:
Preliminary course in Runö, Sweden.
The preliminary course focuses on the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Labour Conference (ILC), global trade union priorities and cooperation among the Nordic countries. We will also start group work in relation to this year’s agenda of the ILO’s International Labour Conference. Basic knowledge of the ILO, the Core Conventions and the ILO work at the national level is a precondition for participation in the course.

Part 2:
Online meetings.
After the preliminary course in Runö, the course will continue with online meetings in April and May. We will learn more about the ILO Conventions and Recommendations in conjunction with the focal points of the group work.

Part 3:
The ILO’s International Labour Conference in Geneva.
In the beginning of June, the participants will leave their everyday lives in their respective home countries behind to live and study together in Geneva and follow the ILO’s International Labour Conference.  The stay will be concluded with the completion of a report.
In Geneva, the participants will observe the work of the Worker’s Group at the ILO’s International Labour Conference. Representatives from ACTRAV (the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities) will present the topics that the ILO is working on. The Geneva School will also invite experts from other international organisations. At the same time, the participants will work on their assignments in project groups and meet with delegates from other countries.

The course is concluded with a presentation of the final project by the project groups.


Good to know

Practical information for participants


Knowledge of Nordic, international and trade union issues is an advantage in order to fully benefit from the course.

The participants will be working in project groups during the entire course and it is therefore necessary to have experience in studying on their own.


Lectures and activities during the preliminary course will be conducted in both Scandinavian and English. The major part of the reading material in preparation for the course and the work during the ILO’s International Labour Conference will be in English. Within the group community, the emphasis will be on the Scandinavian languages (with the exception of Finnish and Icelandic). The official language in Geneva is French, but you can usually manage well by speaking English.


The school operates with a principal and teachers who are engaged for the full duration of the course. The teachers come from different Nordic countries and have a guiding role. The training consists of lectures and project work. In addition, experts are invited to give lectures on specific topics.


See the list of current contact information. Contact your national coordinator, organisation or trade union. You need a recommendation from your union or organisation because they are the ones who will be paying the costs of the course for you.

If you have any questions about the details of the course, please contact our joint secretariat.


Make sure you have a valid passport. You need to bring it already at the preliminary course in Sweden so that the school can process your registration for the ILO’s International Labour Conference.


Contact your sender organisation and find out which insurance coverage they provide during your course at the Geneva school. Carefully check if your home insurance or similar insurance covers any costs that may arise.

Also remember to bring your European health insurance card. With this card, you have access to health care on the same conditions as the local inhabitants if you fall ill abroad.

If you need to see a doctor or buy medication, you will have to pay for it yourself during the course, and any compensation will subsequently be reimbursed to you by your insurance company. There will be doctors and nurses present at the ILO headquarters and at the United Nations Office at the Palais de Nations. Don’t forget to bring any medication you need.


We recommend that you have exchanged currency in your home country in advance so that you have what you need during the first few days in Switzerland. The currency in Switzerland is Swiss Franc (CHF). Euros are used in France, which is located very close to Geneva. You can use Visa and MasterCard, which can also be used in the Swiss cash dispensers.


Power sockets are generally the same as those used for socket connectors in the Nordic countries. However, earthed contact sockets require an adapter.


Full board is only offered during the preliminary course in Runö.

During your stay in Geneva, a simple continental breakfast will be served at the hotel in the morning. The participants must prepare and pay for the remaining meals themselves.  Expect a cost of about CHF 50 per day for food if you combine visits to budget restaurants with making your own meals. There is a restaurant in the ILO building and at the United Nations Office in the Palais des Nations. There are also plenty of restaurants in different price ranges close to the hotel.

During the preliminary course in Runö, participants will each get their own room while for the duration of the stay in Switzerland, the participants will be sharing a room with a fellow participant. Participants are free to choose their own roommates, but the roommate must be from another Nordic country and another study group. Post-course evaluations have shown that most participants appreciate this arrangement. It creates greater benefits, both in terms of language skills and cultural understanding.

In Geneva, participants are accommodated in double rooms at the Drake Longchamp Hotel, which is located in a multicultural district in the city centre. It is within walking distance of the central station, Cornavin, and the promenade along the shore of the lake. The hotel standard corresponds to a two- to three star hotel in a Nordic country. The rooms are equipped with a shower, toilet and pantry (small kitchen with fridge, a hotplate and kitchen utensils). The kitchen utensils consist of a saucepan, a frying pan, plates, glasses and cutlery. There is a hairdryer. You must clean your own dishes. Small garments can be washed in the hotel room, and there is a coin-operated launderette near the hotel.


The dress code during office hours in Switzerland is a lot more formal than what we are used to in the Nordic countries. A ”business casual” attire is recommended and expected from all participants during the official programme at the Geneva School. As a general rule, this involves wearing a jacket or something similar, and it applies to both men and women. You must of course be comfortable with the clothes you wear, but bear in mind that you represent the school as well as your sender organisation. Casual clothes such as jeans or the like are not appropriate wear during working hours in a UN context.

Generally, the weather in Geneva varies a lot, exactly as in the Nordic countries. It is a good idea to bring an umbrella and even swimwear. Heat waves can occur just as the weather can resemble a rainy Nordic summer.


There will be a number of lectures and meetings as part of the course. Participants usually take turns giving an introduction and concluding by thanking the lecturer and presenting them with a small gift. Something which symbolises their country or organisation.

When it is your turn to thank a lecturer, it would be nice if you had a gift for the lecturer. It might be a good idea to ask your organisation if they have any gifts you can take with you. You may also want to discuss this among yourselves in the national level groups.


During your stay in Geneva, equipment and facilities for socialising will not be of the same standards as those you may be used to from conference centres in the Nordic countries. This requires that you are able to adapt to the situation.

The school has access to a hall in a local ILO building at certain hours of the day which will be indicated in the programme. This is the same hall in which Geneva School lectures are given by the guest lecturers. There is internet access in both the ILO building and the UN building. You cannot expect it to work flawlessly or offer access to social media etc.

Towards the final stage of the course, the reports must be completed and the school will arrange for a lecture room at a separate location.


Everyone has the right to equal treatment regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or nationality, religion or other beliefs, sexual orientation, impairments or illness etc. In your role as a participant, you must act professionally and refrain from any unfair discrimination against anyone based on these or similar criteria. The same applies, of course, to how you yourself are to be treated.


During the course, there will be an ongoing evaluation of both the individual learning process and the learning process of the project group. The final evaluation of the course will be carried out after the course is completed.


The school’s outreach is the annual course. We strive to maintain the school’s good reputation and the contacts with various international organisations which we have established throughout many years.

As a participant, you have an important role to play as a representative of your sender organisation as well as of the Geneva School.

Places at the school are in high demand and cannot be interrupted or paused to accomplish something else. You cannot return home before the course is completed or see to other major tasks or work remotely while you are there.  It requires very strong reasons to justify bypassing this and it would also require permission from both the principal and you sender organisation.

Please show respect and solidarity with your fellow participants, the teachers and guest lecturers by being on time for classes, lectures and meals.

Drink alcohol only in moderation. This applies at both receptions within the Geneva School setting and in your spare time. The use of drugs classified as narcotics is of course prohibited.

If, in any way, you act inappropriately in conflict with the ethical policy, your stay at the school may be discontinued prematurely if the school leadership so decides.

Photo gallery

About the ILO

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the UN’s specialised agency for work-related issues. The fundamental goals of the ILO plenary are to fight poverty and social injustice. Its tasks include promoting employment and better working conditions worldwide as well as protecting trade union freedoms and rights.