Nobel Laureate Opens Secretary-Generals Lecture Series

07/09/2002

Nobel prizewinning author Toni Morrison addressed a packed audience of enthusiastic staff in opening a lecture series which the Secretary-General hoped would bring in speakers from a wide range of disciplines and regions to discuss issues of interest that extended beyond the normal work done at the building. The measure of its obvious success was the standing ovation extended to Ms Morrison who highlighted the role of language in promoting peace and condemning violence.

She drew on myth and experience, fact and fiction, to stress that dialogue and understanding are the most effective ways of overcoming friction. One or two questions raised after the lecture seemed to strike a somewhat skeptical note mainly because war rhetoric seemed to attract more populism than the kinder gentler voices of peace however the overwhelming response of the audience assured Ms Morrison that she was in the right place. In introducing the speaker, Kofi Annan said that literature has the power to transform us in ways that politics never can. The staff, diplomats and journalists who attended the lecture felt it was a stimulating pilot event to be followed by equally impressive events.