United Nations Society of Writers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The United Nations Society of Writers is a club for United Nations staff registered with the United Nations Staff Socio Cultural Commission in Geneva, and is known under the acronyms UNSW and SENU, corresponding to Societé des écrivains des Nations Unies. It was founded in Geneva on Friday 14 August 1989 by Sergio Chaves (Argentina), Leonor Sampaio (Brazil) and Alfred de Zayas (United States).


The UNSW organizes literary events, poetry readings, round tables and publishes a yearly literary journal, Ex Tempore, with a print run of 500 copies. As of December 2016, twenty-seven issues have appeared.[1][2] The name Ex Tempore was chosen since staff contributions should be crisp, impromptu, and as far away as possible from the stale UN jargon of resolutions and reports. Volume 21 (December 2010) is devoted to "music, the international language" and comprises 104 pages. Volume 22 is dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Volume 23 is dedicated to the human right to peace. Volume 24 covers the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner, the trans-frontier exhibition "art en campagne", cows, swans, the environment—and love. Volume 25 is the anniversary issue, spanning 184 pages and covers the activities of UN staffers on behalf of peace. Volume 26 is dedicated to the environment, COP21 and the Sustainable Development Goals; vol. 27 is dedicated to the metaphysics of language and communication, the origin of poetry since Gilgamesh and Homer; volume 28 addresses the concept of happiness in the light of the UN-declared international day of happiness, also deals with music and creativity.

UNSW has proven that UN staffers can also write literature. The journal Ex Tempore has been widely acclaimed in the Swiss press and received media attention from the Tribune de Geneve (9 April 1997, "Les internationaux lancent un Salon littéraire", p. 12, 4 March 1998, p. 11 "l'Onu en poésie", 12 February 2000, 28 February 2001 "Ex Tempore a tenu sa soirée littéraire", 12 February 2004 "Le Cerce de poètes qui libère les onusiens", Le Courrier 18 June 1998, "Une revue cherche à tisser des liens entre l'ONU et la cité", 10 February 2000 "littérature" p. 11, Le Journal de Geneve, Le Temps, and DIVA International (2006 Nr. 2, p. 36).[3] UN Special April 2008, p. 33: "Ex Tempore- Nouveau Numéro et Soirée Littéraire". Its members have been interviewed by local television stations such as Leman Bleu, and by local radio stations, including Radio Cité. The journal has its own issn number: ISSN 1020-6604 and is kept by some 20 libraries worldwide, including the Library of Congress, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Leipzig and the Schweizerisches Landesbilbiothek in Bern. On 5 October 2008 Ex Tempore hosted the Mahmoud Darwish memorial lecture during which poems of the Palestinian poet were read out in arbic, English and French. On 25 January 2013 UNSW held its 17th annual salon, attended by 65 UN writers. On 24 January 2014 the 18th annual salon was held, attended by 62 UN staffers, on 23 January 2015 the 19th salon, on 22 January 2016 the 20th salon, on 20 January 2017 the 21st salon; the 22nd salon on 26 January 2018.


After 15 years as president of the UN Society of Writers, Alfred de Zayas retired in December 2005, but remains as editor of the literary journal. Following the General Assembly of UNSW held on 19 November 2017 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the composition of the new UNSW Board is:

Honorary President: Michael Moller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) Martine Thévebit and Josep Garí joined the editorial committee.

The new internet domain for the UNSW journal "Ex Tempore" www.extempore.ch is now operational.

The March 2017 issue of UN Special publishes an article on the history of the Society of Writers.[4] /The April 2006 issue of UN Special brings an interesting article including a Rilke translation "Célébration des lettres" (http://www.unspecial.org/UNS650/t52.html). The January 2009 UN Special (11,000 copies) brings an essay UN Society of Writers welcomes 2009 written by de Zayas and elaborating on the vocation of UN staffers, in particularly writers, to work for peace and universal understanding. http://www.unspecial.org/UNS680/t24.html DIVA International, a Geneva quarterly, published in its number 2/2010 the article by Johannes van Aggelen "Celebrating Cultural Diversity - Ex Tempore at 20", pp. 32–33. The UN Special announced the publication of Vol. 21 of Ex Tempore, dedicated to Music as an international language, in an article: "Le Numéro XXI d'Ex Tempore est tiré; il faut le lire" U.N.Special, février 2011, p. 10. The June 2011 issue of UN Special reproduces an article from Ex Tempore XXI on pages 14/15.[5] The April 2013 issue of UN Special reproduces an essay from Ex Tempore XXIII.[6] Diva International publishes on the 18th Ex Tempore Salon of 24 January 2014 and the publication of Ex Tempore volume XXIV [7] Diva International and UN Special both published on the Library event of 14 October 2014 to celebrate 25 years of UN writers.