It was an optimistic time. World War I had ended. Hopes were rising for a new era of international cooperation, and new international institutions were being built. In 1923, work began on what was to become the Centre William Rappard. The building that would first house the International Labour Office (ILO) and later the World Trade Organization (WTO), fully reflected that optimism. Its location could hardly be more appropriate. The building is in a lakeside park in neutral
Geneva; across the tranquil waters and beyond the foothills are the immaculate snowcaps of Mont-Blanc and the Alps. With one of the most beautiful views in the city, the site embodied peace and stability.
Three years later, the building was completed and became the headquarters of the ILO, the only organization created at the same time as the
League of Nations, which would itself later become the United Nations. At its birth and over the next decades, the ILO received gifts from its member governments and labour unions: artworks of many kinds, taking up themes of peace, social justice, human progress and the glorifi cation of labour. The commissioned artists were in their prime, artistically and by reputation.
I sometimes get the feeling from the anti-globalization movement that the World Trade Organization is the seat of all evil, responsible for about 99.9% of what's wrong with the world from growing income inequality, environmental destruction, to the endless marketing of the talentless and disastrous Spears family. (The latter case would constitute "trade in services.") And that's just for starters: view this film clip of arch globophobe Walden Bello outside the WTO building cataloging the organization's infinite sins against mankind. Anyway, the WTO building struck me as a rather attractive base for this arch-organization of money grubbers, charlatans, reprobates, and other evildoers. Fortunately, there is a new publication up on the WTO website detailing the (sordid?) history of this building. It's interesting stuff. For example, did you know that the building used to house the ILO? Or, does the architecture of WTO headquarters reflect the nefarious neo-Satanic activities going on within its walls as depicted by the anti-globalization movement? Decide for yourselves...