November 15, 2023

APEC logo

Dialogue is the first step toward any solution

I am currently attending a few events at APEC, including one that is co-hosted by GO-Biz. Other than the poor weather, San Francisco has rolled out the red carpet showcasing the most beautiful city in the world – an opportunity for dignitaries and visitors to see first-hand the reality of the city, likely dispelling the doom-loop narrative that has gained such a wide following.

APEC is an intergovernmental forum that was formed in 1989 and has held annual gatherings to promote free trade, economic development and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Its 21 member economies include 19 countries plus Taiwan and Hong Kong, and together, comprise over 40% of world population and over 60% of global GDP.

However, not only does APEC bring together world leaders, but it also attracts those protesting free trade, inequality and global conflicts. We welcome the diversity of viewpoints on challenging issues expressed in a civil, respectful manner, but cannot tolerate harassment or violence.

On that note, it’s been 40 days since 240 hostages were kidnapped and held captive in tunnels following the terrorist massacre of 1,200 people on October 7th, including the elderly and babies. Since then, 11,000 have been killed in Gaza, including 7,500 women and children.

There really is nothing that I can add to this discourse. I’ve visited Israel as well as Palestinian refugee camps. It’s difficult for us to appreciate how Israel lives continually under severe security threats surrounded by hostile neighbors, or how displaced Palestinians suffer a challenging existence with diminishing hope for their future. The situation is tragic on every level and will leave a stain on civilized society throughout history. We grieve with all…every person who has been affected and traumatized and who continues to deal with loss, suffering and fear.

It was on this day in 1988, that the declaration of the State of Palestine was adopted by the Palestinian National Council. On this 35th anniversary, while Palestine is now recognized by 139 nations, little has changed on the ground to facilitate such a declaration.

Also on this day, in 1920, the League of Nations held its first Assembly meeting. A precursor to APEC, the League of Nations was the first world-wide intergovernmental organization and was formed after World War I with the mission to maintain world peace. With its formation, the Mandate for Palestine was submitted to the League on December 7, 1920 to administer the territories conceded by the Ottoman Empire, land where Jews, Muslims and Christians once peacefully coexisted.

President Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize for being the League of Nations lead architect, though the United States never joined as a member. The organization lasted just a few decades and was replaced by the United Nations after World War II. The UN then administered the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and formed the UNRWA to support Palestinian refugees in 1949.

Despite past failures, such intergovernmental bodies as the UN and APEC remain a critical avenue for cooperation to seek solutions to intractable problems.  Without engagement and dialogue, there will be no acceptable outcomes. In that sense and by graciously hosting high level Chinese and Russian delegations to our shores, APEC has already succeeded.

Scott Wu

S. Wu Signature