The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and Specialised Agencies in Geneva was established by Pope Paul VI on February 1st 1967. At that point in time the Holy See was already member of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1951 as well as of the United Nations Conference on Commerce and Development (UNCTAD) since 1964.

The Holy See has since become a Member State of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, 1974) and of the International Organization for Migration (IOM, 2011). The Mission also follows the work of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), of which the Vatican City State is a Member.

The Holy See participates as an Observer in the following Geneva-based organizations: the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the UNAIDS Office in Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The Holy See became an Observer to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on July 16, 1997 and formalized its status as a non-Member State Observer to the WHO on May 31, 2021.

The Holy See is part to the Geneva Conventions  of 12 August 1949, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) and its Protocols, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (APLC). The Holy See also participates as a non-Member State in the Conference on Disarmament and follows the activity of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

List of Former Permanent Observers of the Holy See:

– Rev. Fr. Henri de Riedmatten, O.P (1969-1972) 

– Msgr. Silvio Luoni (1972-1978)

– H.E. Archbishop Jean Rupp, Apostolic Nuncio (1978-1981)

– H.E. Archbishop Edoardo Rovida, Apostolic Nuncio (1981-1985)

– H.E. Archbishop Justo Mullor Garcia, Apostolic Nuncio (1985-1992)

– H.E. Archbishop Paul F. Tabet, Apostolic Nuncio (1992-1996)

– H.E. Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, Apostolic Nuncio (1996 – 2001)

– H.E. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Apostolic Nuncio (2001-2003)

– H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio (2003- 2016)

– H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio (2016-2021)

– H.E. Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Apostolic Nuncio (2021-2023)

Interview with former Permanent Observer H.E. Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu