Twenty years ago, government forces in Rwanda knocked on doors, capturing and killing up to 1 million people—whose only crime was being Tutsi—while the United Nations and other foreign powers sat back. Meanwhile in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia was engulfed in its own wars, leading to the breakup of the country as war crimes ordered by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic went unchecked for years. And in Colombia, a rebel military group operating in the Amazon rainforest nearly destroyed the country from the inside out.
A generation later, those same nations ablaze in problems that seemed unsolvable at the time have risen, not quite stronger than ever but to positions high enough that the world has taken notice. Each has chosen to follow a similar path, relying on meetings and events to drive business, but they are in different stages of economic development. They know the challenges ahead of them, not the least of which are perceptions stemming from memories of 1990s horrors.
If there is one takeaway from these stories, it is that hope remains in the bleakest of circumstances. Perhaps in another 20 years, it will be Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria telling the world they are reopening for business.