May-June 2014Announcing the May/June 2014 Issue III, Vol VIII Cover Story: Philippine Resilience Featured: An Interview with Ambassador Jose L. Cusia PLUS: Russia - Sanctions, International Law, and Ukraine's Future; Tipping the Social Stock Market; Europe's Global Elections; and more! Washington, DC: The Philippines is one of the best economic comeback stories of recent years. Poised to be the strongest performing South East Asian economy in 2014, it is no surprise the World Economic Forum chose Manila to host the regional meeting there this May. But this is not the only reason we chose to focus our editorial lens on the Philippines in this edition. In the Philippines we saw a poignant story of disaster diplomacy. After the devastation of Hurricane Yolanda last November, we witnessed inspiring resilience and determination to overcome and rebuild from both the government and people of the Philippines. We also witnessed an international community—be it individuals, organizations, and governments—mobilize rapidly. The response time was crucial and part of the success story; we know well that more lives can be saved if relief arrives within 72 hours of disaster. In the last decade hundreds of millions of people have been affected by natural disasters. According to Renner and Chafe’s “Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace” 231 million people, to be exact. A disaster is an event that kills at least 10 people, affects 100, or requires an emergency declaration or a call for international assistance. So by that definition, 348 disasters on average have struck each year in the past decade. The hardship and destruction can create goodwill in the form of aid even from players that have been historically engaged in conflict with each other. We have seen this story unfold several times. Take for example, the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Greece in 1999—killing 17,000 Turks and 7,000 Greeks. Although tensions were high between the neighbors, Greece immediately offered aid to Turkey, who was hit first. Later, Turkey returned the favor. Another example is when Kashmir suffered an earthquake in 2006. India’s territory in Kashmir cooperated with Pakistan’s territory to bring relief to the suffering region. Is “disaster diplomacy” a proven silver lining in these situations? On one hand, politicians and diplomats tend to have higher priorities than humanitarian aid. On the other hand, natural disasters present a unique opportunity for rapprochement, especially in regions of conflict. As the government of the Philippines and multilateral actors work together to rebuild, we found that recovery and resilience has given way to strength and growth. The Philippines has done a remarkable job on positioning itself as a major player in the region—a region they see themselves leading in the not-so-distant future. It is easy to recognize the success trajectory and is one, I believe, that can be attributed not just to hard numbers of GDP growth, but also to the people-to-people diplomacy Filipinos practice so aptly. You will note an intimate view of that in the ambassador-to-ambassador feature interview in this edition in which Ambassador Holliday discusses these trends with Ambassador Cuisia of the Philippines. That success trajectory is why we dedicate an entire edition to the successful story of the Philippines this May. Ana C. Rold is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Diplomatic Courier.  

Article by