There are probably 80,000 international bureaucrats in this city - about half of them employed with the United Nations and its related agencies that, combined, schedule some 7,000 meetings a year.
Trying to summarize life on the inside is difficult but one American who has lived here 15 years and has worked for three different U.N. agencies put it this way:
"It's not really different from a bureaucratic organization anywhere, except here you've got to take people from everywhere. Some are good. Some can't work at the pace of an American or West European, though the pay scales are most attractive especially to those people.
"Still, there are a lot of qualified people but many are misused. They work far below their capabilities. Some of the smaller, specialized agencies have some spirit and pull together. But the U.N. itself is so diverse that management is a practically insoluble problem. There are so many unrelated undertakings which some under the secretary general but ever which he has no real control.
"But the quesiton of results that some out of the whole thing I think is badly misunderstood. If you look at the day-to-day operations, I don't see how you can get along without it. Who is going to regulate international air channels, make sure big buildings have little red lights on top, receive complaints about unfair labor practices or handle a multi-regional food crisis? What gets attention are the fiascoes in New York at the General Assembly.
"The problem, I guess, is that a lot of us have been around too long to judge what's dynamic. But once you're in this thing, a pin drop in your area gets your attention.
"It's an extremely frustrating job. The least job satisfaction you can imagine; a rigid heirarchy where lobbying by a government gets the promotion for their man rather than the guy who deserves it through merit. It's mostly luck if you ever get anywhere."
So why does he stay?
"Well, life is pleasant in Europe and they manage to keep the conditions just good enough to keep you. It's a good place to sit around, relax and not worry about anything - if you can pay the rent. Financially. I'm not sure I'm really any better off. You cannot, for example, buy a sixroom house here for less than 500,000 francs almost $300,000.
And, once you've been here for a while, let's face it, what else can you do? Who wants an ex-U.N. official?"