Key Global Events in February

Starting this month, the Global Observatory will post a list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs. This first edition points out a number of elections, security-related meetings at the United Nations, as well as the ongoing economic policy coordination efforts in the G20.

 

Security

  • Feb. 9: Security Council Meeting on Sudan/South Sudan/Abyei
    Sudan is a key challenge on the Council’s agenda in February. The unresolved status of the Abyei region and continuing frictions between the Khartoum and the Juba governments over the sharing of oil revenues will occupy the Council.
  • Feb. 21: Security Council Open Debate on Peace and Security in Africa (focus: Sahel Region)
    Spillover effects and the proliferation of weapons in the Sahel region due to instability in Libya as well as threats resulting from transnational organized crime and terrorism have brought this issue to the top of the international agenda. High-level participation by the Government of Togo and the Secretariat is expected.
  • Feb. 21: General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations
    The C-34 opens its substantive session for 2012, scheduled to conclude on March 16. In the last few years, however, a mix of cumbersome working methods and divisions in the membership delayed agreement on a final report. Given new working methods that are expected to be adopted, will this year’s session go more smoothly?
  • Feb. 23: London Conference on Somalia
    Senior representatives from over 40 governments and multilateral organizations will gather in London to discuss a new international approach to Somalia. Issues on the table include security (funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and support for Somali security and justice sectors); political process (what should succeed the transitional institutions in Mogadishu in August 2012); local stability; counter-terrorism; piracy; humanitarian crises; and improving international coordination.

    This is not the first large conference on Somalia. But the high-profile support by the UK government and the fact that the transition process in Mogadishu is supposed to wrap up in August of this year, show that there is a renewed urgency to improve the situation in Somalia. The conference website is here.

  • Feb. 29: Security Council Meeting on Libya
    Having last discussed Libya and the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in January, SRSG Ian Martin will brief the Council on the latest developments in Libya. Besides the challenge of building up the UN mission, key issues include security and stability in Libya, as well as possible spillover in the Sahel region and the proliferation of weapons. Other issues include, the consolidation of state authority and human rights challenges, as well as the transitional justice process and the ICC investigations.
  • Also of interest:

    • Feb. 3-5: 48th Munich International Security Conference in Germany (conference website is here)
    • Feb. 7: Security Council Meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Feb. 9: Security Council Meeting on UNISFA: This will be the first of several meetings on Sudan and South Sudan during February. On February 17, the Sudan Sanctions Committee will be discussed and its mandate renewed.
    • Feb. 13-Feb. 17: Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Elections

  • Feb. 12: Presidential Elections in Turkmenistan
    The upcoming Presidential election will be the second since Turkmenistan’s independence in 1991; both have taken place after the death of Turkmenistan’s long-term “President for Life” Saparmurat Niyazov, also known as “Türkmenbaşy.” Incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is running and will presumably win another 5-year term in what is unlikely to be a democratic contest. A recent report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has found that Turkmenistan’s election rules are unfair, to an extent that ODIHR currently does not deem it worth to deploy an election observer mission. More information: OSCE Needs Assessment Mission Report
  • Feb. 14: Stage Two of Legislative Elections in Egypt
    Elections for the new Shura Council seem to raise little interest in Egypt. This is due to the general ambiguity that surrounds the exact role and function of the Shura Council and confusion over exactly how the full council will be formed. Arguably the most important role of the Shura Council is to meet in a joint session with the People’s Assembly to select the 100 representatives tasked with drafting Egypt’s new constitution. Only the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has shown much interest and effort towards obtaining these seats fielding 87 candidates for the 90 available seats in the first round. More information: IFES website
  • Feb. 21: Presidential Elections in Yemen
    In keeping with the GCC initiative and implementation plan signed in late November by President Saleh, presidential elections are scheduled for February 21. The consensus candidate for president is Abdo Rabo Mansour, who would be the first new president in 33 years. These elections will be a key milestone in the history of Yemen; their outcome will be important for the transitional period as envisioned by the GCC implementation plan. A key challenge for the new president will be to restructure the armed forces. Reducing the influence of former President Saleh’s family is essential for enabling the new president to carry out his duties without hindrance.
  • Feb. 26: Presidential Elections in Senegal
    Senegal’s long-term President Wade is running for a third term, despite a law from 2002 that limits presidents to two terms and statements from the United States and France opposing his candidacy. Wade argued that the law would not retroactively apply to him, and his view was upheld by Senegal’s Constitutional Court in a recent ruling.

    The 85-year-old president’s reluctance to step aside after two terms, along with the 2009 appointment of his son Karim to a “Superministry” in charge of International Cooperation, Regional Development, Air Transport, and Infrastructure, have led to perceptions that the Wade family wants to hang on to power for the long-run.

    As a consequence, Senegal is experiencing a wave of protests and tensions. Furthermore, some candidates, including the famous singer Youssou N’Dour, have been barred from participating in the elections. All this increases the risk for incidents of election-related violence in the traditionally very stable Senegal. More information: ICG Crisis Watch Database

Other Multilateral Meetings

  • Feb. 25-26: G20 Finance Ministers meet in Mexico
    Finance Ministers will meet in Mexico City to discuss responses to the ongoing financial crises, as well as the continuing threats to economic growth around the world. This ministerial-level meeting is part of the preparation of the G20 in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico in June 2012. More information: G20 website
  • Also of interest
    Feb. 27 – Mar. 23: Human Rights Council opens its nineteenth session (more information here)