Researching “The UN Association of the USA” involved conducting more than 50 interviews with people who had been involved in UNA over the decades. The interviews contain a treasure trove of insights and stories not only about UNA but also the lives and times of the interviewees. Only a small fraction of the information made it into the book, so the UNA-USA History Project and Seton Hall University have decided to create this Oral History archive of the interviews conducted for the book.
This Oral History is based on interviews conducted for The UN Association-USA: A Little Known History of Advocacy and Action. The transcripts have been edited for clarity. It is our intention to continually add to the Oral History.
I really developed a desire to be more involved internationally. So I heard about the United Nations Association; it was a fledgling chapter in Frankfort. I joined that in 1977.
I arrived in the fall of 1999, for the beginning of the fall semester. By that time the relationship with the UNA had been established. The agreement between Seton Hall and UNA was actually established two years before that in 1997. What happened after that was UNA and Seton Hall agreed to creating a professional school of international affairs that a focus on the UN.
Interview with Jeffrey Laurenti by Dulcie Leimbach and Jim Wurst, December 12, 2013.
I had many roles in UNA. Way back in the 1960s, when UNA-USA was formed from the merger of “AAUN” and “The US Committee”. I spoke frequently to UNA groups when they visited the US mission to the UN and I was a junior diplomat there, Then I got deeply involved in the World Bank. As I moved towards retirement I reengaged in the UNA in the Washington D.C. chapter.
I became involved with the UNA aside from being a member for many years independently by virtue of my role with the League of Women Voters. I was the League’s representative to the UN through the office of public information. I was the League observer at the UN. There had been a league observer at the UN since its founding days.
I was named by Ed Koch to be the New York City Commissioner for the United Nations in 1976, and I did that job for the following 12 years.
The principal NGO activity in my life, I mean I’ve done lots of stuff, was the Roosevelt project. I was the founder and the chairman of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. I was the founder of the Roosevelt Study Center in Europe. I was the founder and chairman of the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy.