Students & Campus
21 October 2022

Fostering Dialogue on East Asia

The student-led Contemporary East Asia Studies Initiative (CEAS) is back for another year of creating "constructive dialogue to discuss the role and significance of East Asia within the international development and governance agenda". 

In an interview, Camille Lau, CEAS President, shares insights about the upcoming Geneva Forum on East Asia, to be held from 7-11 November at the Institute. 

This is the second year that CEAS will organise the Geneva Forum on East Asia. What topics will the Forum focus on this year?
The Geneva Forum on East Asia 2022 will focus on a range of topics across environment, trade, security, gender, political partnerships and economic development. In curating this year’s events, it was of crucial importance to us to put the spotlight not only on long-burning subjects but more specifically on topics that are rather underrepresented in public discourse related to East Asia.

This includes academic sessions on Plastic Waste Trade in Southeast Asia, Security Sector Governance in the Asia-Pacific, the Belt and Road Initiative and Sino-African Relations, Contemporary Feminist Movement, as well as Trade and Environment.

In addition, the Ambassador Roundtable aims to discuss the relationship between East Asia and Europe as well as geopolitical challenges.

How does the Forum contribute to furthering knowledge about East Asia?
Similar to the mission of our initiative, the Forum aims to bridge the existing gap between East Asia and the world, which is especially vital here in International Geneva.

Unfortunately, there still is limited discussion and awareness of relevant issues and perspectives of this region, which may turn into an obstacle to engage East Asia in global governance more deeply and constructively. The Forum aims to foster dialogues on topics of high relevance to East Asian states and to increase understanding of East Asian perspectives.

We offer platforms for exchange on the academic but also on the professional and social level by hosting five academic sessions, two career fairs, an Ambassador Roundtable, as well as some fun social activities.

Our activities aim to provide students a holistic experience to further knowledge about East Asia through academic, professional, and cultural exchanges. We have invited ambassadors, experts, scholars, and practitioners to discuss East Asian affairs through the lens of different expertise and experiences. We highly encourage students to participate in interactive discussions with our guest speakers, to engage in constructive and open dialogues on East Asian affairs.

For career fairs, we have invited practitioners working in International Organisations, as well as Institute alumni to share their valuable experiences with students, to further understanding on the significance of work concerning East Asia. Our social activities include a guide to the culinary side of East Asian culture in Geneva, along with a vibrant after-party that allows everyone to enjoy and celebrate with East Asian food and music.

What are some of the main challenges facing this region of the world?
Main challenges faced by East Asia include geopolitics and the great decoupling, sustainability, and governance. Troubled U.S.-China relations, the role of China in the global and regional sphere, and questions on how East Asian countries may respond to increasing power politics contribute to a broader geopolitical reconfiguration and the re-centering of the region.

In addition, sustainability challenges surround the gap between ambition, action and reality, albeit widening inequalities and environmental challenges requiring immediate and consolidated regional actions.

Lastly, in a challenging political atmosphere with increasing divisions, how East Asian countries may facilitate their coordination on strategic issues through regional cooperation and integration remains a contested issue, but also the key to a more cooperative and sustainable future.