Date of Award

Winter 12-11-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History


History & Political Science


College of Arts & Humanities

Committee Chair

Dr. Jeff Woods

Second Committee Member

Dr. David Blanks

Third Committee Member

Dr. Christopher Housenick

Program Director

Dr. Guolin Yi

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Richard Schoephoerster


The United Nations chose specific locations to house its main headquarters and major offices. While there are many smaller regional offices of the United Nations, this focuses only on the four main offices and the Hague, which houses the International Court of Justice. The different locations of New York, the Hague, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi were chosen over a time period of fifty years with New York, the first permanent location, chosen in 1946, and Nairobi, the most recent addition, finalized in 1996. The locations were not chosen purely because of monetary concerns but because they met specific qualifications set up with the establishment of the United Nations and because the cities chosen had an existing presence on the international stage. Whether that presence could be traced back to the Habsburg Empire or it was just being established due to new infrastructure, the cities that the United Nations picked stood out from their neighbors. By analyzing UN documents and other primary sources, this thesis will provide evidence that the UN headquarters were chosen for specific reasons. New York City, Geneva, The Hague, Vienna, and Nairobi were chosen to house UN headquarters and UN bodies because they met certain qualifications and standards, such as location and accessibility, and because they already had a presence on the international stage. This thesis will also show that while the ideal of the United Nations is to be a truly international body and organization, the reality is that it is still very Euro-centric. This is shown in the decisions to house United Nations Offices in places that are either European or have strong ties to Western capitalist Europe. All of the major offices and locations of the United Nations were chosen during the Cold War and that is reflected in the choices of United Nations representatives. This thesis will expand on existing historiography by sharing why Geneva, the Hague, Vienna, and Nairobi were chosen. Existing literature only dealt with why the United States and New York City, in particular, were chosen to house the first permanent headquarters.