UN Library celebrates the founding of the United Nations Society of Writers 25 years ago

20 November 2014

On 14 October 2014 a vibrant and well-attended Library Event was held in the great conference hall on the first floor of the library under the grand Rêve de Paix fresco by Erik Sorensen, a 1939 gift of Norway to the League of Nations on the eve of the Second World War.

Daniel de Roulet, Swiss novelist and laureate of multiple literary awards, delivered a keynote address in French on the noble vocation of writers as bridges between cultures and nations, the peace-making function of literature and the role of libraries in promoting a culture of peace.

De Roulet’s lecture was followed by a lively Q & A session in which many in the audience participated. The ideals of UNESCO’s Constitution and of the Charter of P.E.N. International were highlighted, as, indeed, UNSW entertains synergies with many other literary associations including PEN, the Société génevoise des écrivains, the Société vaudoise des écrivains, the Société valaisaine des écrivains and the Geneva Writers Group.

The event was opened by Dr. Sigrun Haberman-Box, Director of the UN library, who briefly noted the history of the United Nations Society of Writers, which was founded on 14 August 1989 by Leonor Sampaio (Brazil), Sergio Chaves (Argentina) and Alfred de Zayas (USA). For 25 years now the society of writers has been tapping UN literary talent, which expresses itself in original essays, short-stories, poetry, drama and aphorisms in all 6 UN languages, and which has generated 24 volumes of the UN literary journal “Ex Tempore” with cover-art by Diego Oyarzún Reyes – all 24 volumes handsomely exhibited in two vitrines.

The anniversary Volume XXV is now being assembled and will be published later this year. This multilingual UN literary journal is kept not only in the UN library, but also in the Bibliothèque de la Cité (Geneva), the Swiss National Library (Berne), the Mediathèque in Brig, the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale Suisee, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and the Biblioteca Nacional de España.

UN staffers, retired staff members, fellows and interns are invited to submit their oeuvres before 10 November to Marko Stanovic (marko.stanovic@unctad.org), to the Carla Edelenbos, Vice-President UNSW (cedelenbos@ohchr.org) or to Alfred de Zayas (zayas@bluewin.ch). Submissions received after that date will be considered for inclusion in volume XXVI .
The Library event was scheduled for 1 to 2:30 p.m. It actually lasted until 4 p.m., opportunity being given to the audience to read their original poems, essays and short stories. A verrée with delectable finger-food followed during which UN staffers and guests continued talking literature in all good humour, so far away from boring resolutions and technical reports.

Alfred de Zayas, co-founder of UNSW and Editor-in-Chief „Ex Tempore“