Why Arusha is called Geneva of Africa?

Answered by James Kissner

Arusha is often referred to as the “Geneva of Africa” due to its similarities with the Swiss city. This comparison gained popularity after former US President Bill Clinton made the analogy, highlighting Arusha’s role as a hub for international organizations and diplomatic activities in Africa.

One of the main reasons why Arusha is called the Geneva of Africa is because it hosts the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The ICTR was established to prosecute those responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Just like Geneva, which houses various international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the International Red Cross, Arusha serves as a base for significant international legal proceedings.

Furthermore, Arusha is the headquarters of the East African Community (EAC), an intergovernmental organization composed of six countries in East Africa. The EAC aims to promote regional integration and cooperation in various sectors, including trade, infrastructure, and security. Similar to Geneva’s role in facilitating global diplomacy, Arusha plays a crucial role in fostering regional cooperation and dialogue among East African nations.

Arusha’s reputation as a diplomatic and political center is further enhanced by its hosting of peace negotiations and mediation efforts. For instance, the city was the site of the Arusha Accords, which led to the end of the civil war in Burundi in 2000. These peace talks were facilitated by regional and international actors, demonstrating Arusha’s significance as a venue for conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

In addition to its diplomatic and legal significance, Arusha also boasts a scenic and peaceful environment, much like Geneva. Nestled at the foothills of Mount Meru and close to the renowned Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha offers a picturesque setting that attracts tourists and nature enthusiasts. The city’s pleasant climate and proximity to Tanzania’s top tourist destinations make it an ideal location for international conferences and meetings.

Moreover, Arusha’s infrastructure and amenities cater to the needs of international visitors and organizations. The city is well-connected with an international airport, and it offers a range of hotels, conference centers, and other facilities necessary for hosting international events. These factors contribute to Arusha’s reputation as a favorable location for diplomatic and business activities in Africa.

Having visited Arusha myself, I can personally attest to the vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city. The presence of international organizations, diplomats, and expatriates creates a diverse and multicultural community. This blend of cultures and perspectives further enhances the city’s reputation as a hub for international affairs.

Arusha is often called the Geneva of Africa due to its similarities with the Swiss city in terms of hosting international organizations, diplomatic activities, and peace negotiations. The city’s role as the headquarters of the ICTR and the EAC, along with its scenic beauty and infrastructure, make it a significant center for diplomacy and regional cooperation in Africa.