|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
INTERNATIONAL VEGETARIAN UNION'S
WE are happy to devote the editorial pages of World Forum to lectures given in August, at La Cité Universitaire, which provided an ideal and dignified setting for the International Vegetarian Union's XIVth World Congress. We apologize for the delay in the appearance of this issue and for the unavoidable omission of several interesting lectures which have not yet been received in manuscript form.
International Congresses have at least three important functions. To provide an opportunity for a statement of the latest knowledge of health and nutrition, together with a re-statement of ethical principles. To stimulate interest in the country's government, public and press. To foster international friendships by social activities and a sharing of experiences.
In many respects the Paris Congress was enjoyable and highly successful. Nevertheless it was unbalanced in that too much time was devoted to lectures, some of which were repetitive and some speakers appeared twice instead of another country being given the opportunity to speak. This is no reflection on the lecturers who were excellent.
The tedium, which has sometimes marred previous Congresses, and occasioned by the same address being given in two languages, was obviated by the headphone system of simultaneous translation. However, morning, afternoon and evening lectures (two each session), however brilliant, become wearying to the mind and physically exhausting in summer weather.
So if we have learned anything it is that more time, much more time, should be devoted to social activities, the arts and crafts, including practical cookery demonstrations, and time for foreign visitors to see historic and cultural places of interest. Evening lectures were attended by audiences of 500 while afternoons saw only a handful - a poor deal for a speaker who had prepared an important paper.
Another lesson we should learn is to cut the organisation committees to an absolute minimum to ensure that necessary details are checked by a small responsible body with an overall knowledge of requirements and experience of previous international meetings. Three competent people should be enough.
Congresses, wherever they are held, are the project and responsibility of the I.V.U., which should have absolute control over the choice of speakers, their subjects and the programme. It is, of course, only courteous to seek the approval of the host nation as represented by nominees from the main Societies, but final decisions must be the prerogative of the I.V.U. and should be accepted as coming from a fully experienced executive. The duties of the National Committee should be clearly defined and public relations directed by the I.V.U.
It is our experience that every country has its rugged individualists in every kind of movement, and the vegetarian movement is no exception. Consequently, international gatherings are not easy to arrange and carry through.
If the undercurrents occasionally seep into the public arena it should be borne in mind that a healing process is taking place. The I.V.U. Congresses try to bring rival Societies and strong individualists together in fellowship and in a cause worthy of the highest endeavour - with far greater success than is experienced in the political field.
The I.V.U.'s thanks for co-operation must go to the French Committee directed by Dr. Jean Nussbaum, to Dr. Jacques de Marquette whose bearing was admirable, and to the following for much previous work, particularly M. Edouard Brobecker and Mme. Clarisse Brobecker, Mme. Yvonne du Bois d'Auberville, M. Raymond Dextreit and Mme. Dextreit, and M. Louis de Costier.
Mme. E. de Meyer headed a team of energetic French assistants at the Congress and worked hard before, during and after. It was largely due to her cool efficiency that the smooth working of administration was assured.
Mr. Josef Pedersen, the Swedish Treasurer of the I.V.U., worked steadily through the Congress as is his custom, accounting for registrations and diverse forms of currency deposited in most unlikely places!
Mr. Hanworth Walker, the I.V.U. Secretary, had little time to appreciate the fruition of several years' devoted work in the international field.
A word of praise, too, for Mrs. Clarence Gasque, the President, whose Chairmanship was an unusual blend of grace and efficiency.