Newsletter 8 – January 2014

“A UNA for a Language Community” Launched by the Esperanto Movement

Supporters of the United Nations among Esperanto speakers have recently launched a new organization, “Esperanto for the United Nations” (EUN). Its goal is to bring news of the UN’s work to the attention of the Esperanto-speaking community, to organize activities promoting the UN, and to stress the importance of the linguistic dimension of international affairs. President of the new organization will be Stefano Keller, representative of the Universal Esperanto Association (UEA) at the Geneva office of the UN.  

“Think of us as a United Nations Association for speakers of Esperanto,” suggested Humphrey Tonkin, who represents UEA in New York.  “We want to mobilize speakers of Esperanto behind the aims and ideals of the UN,” he added. He pointed to the clause in UEA’s constitution to the effect that “Good international relations and respect for human rights, as they are defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised instruments, are essential conditions for the work of UEA.”  “Given that commitment,” he said, “it is perfectly natural that we would support the UN and its important work for human rights in the broadest sense.”

Joining Keller on the board of the new organization will be Ileana Schrøder, president of the Danish Esperanto Association, Michael Boris Mandirola, vice-president of UEA’s youth section (TEJO), and Renée Triolle, representative of UEA at UNESCO. Still to be added is a representative of the UEA team in New York.  

The organization has named two honorary presidents, both of them speakers of Esperanto: Judge Giuliano Turone, of Italy, and Professor Rafaela Urueña Alvarez, of Spain.  Professor Urueña, a specialist on EU law, is professor of international law and international relations at the University of Valladolid.  She is the author of books and articles on environmental protection and on the law of the sea and was a founding member of the Institute of European Studies at the University of Valladolid.  

Dr. Giuliano Turone was for many years an investigating judge specialising in Mafia crime and later served as prosecutor at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague and as a judge on the Supreme Court of Cassation, the court of last resort in the Italian legal system. He has taught at the Catholic University of Milan and is author of several legal handbooks.  He has a particular interest in human rights.

World Esperanto Congress to Address Sustainable Development

The 99th World Congress of Esperanto, to take place in Buenos Aires from July 26 to August 2, 2014, will have as its topic “Will Our Grandchildren Thank Us? Mobilizing for a Sustainable Future.”  The choice of topic marks the final year of UNESCO’s World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

“We Esperanto speakers work for ‘our grandchildren’, that is, for coming generations, as Zamenhof expressed the idea in his poem The Way,” remarked Dr. Mark Fettes, UEA president. “But our grandchildren will live in a world society that will have to solve many more problems than simply language problems. By choosing this topic we aim to explore the connections between those efforts and our own.”

At the core of the concept of sustainable development lies the preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity, which parallels biological and environmental diversity. This aspect of the congress theme will undoubtedly receive attention in Buenos Aires, where there will be opportunities to learn about efforts to preserve indigenous languages, about multilingual schools, and related topics.  Fettes emphasizes, however, that the topic will cover wider ground.

“Traditionally, we speak of ‘three pillars’ of sustainable development: the economy, society, and the environment. We will take pains to touch on all three fields.  Our aim will be not only to educate ourselves on current world developments and alternatives, but also to update our own ideas.  In the congress debates, I hope, new responses to the question ‘Why Esperanto?’ will be raised.”