At the start of every month, the Global Observatory posts a list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs.
Peace & Security
- February 1: Iran Receives First $550 Million of Blocked Overseas Funds
Following the interim nuclear deal in November to ease sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, Iran receives the first installment of what will be $4.2 billion of previously frozen assets from the six world powers who signed the deal, according to Reuters. The nations will release the remaining seven installments of $450-$550 million over the next six months if Iran meets milestones for scaling back its nuclear programs. Under the deal, Iran must significantly dilute its stockpile of enriched uranium from 20 percent to 5 before the last installment is paid. The opening round of negotiations on a long-term deal between Iran and the six world powers is expected to take place in New York sometime in mid-February.
- February 1: Meeting on Middle East Peace Accord, Munich
On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, top officials from the United States, Russia, European Union, and the United Nations meet to discuss how they can facilitate US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts for a Middle East peace deal.
- February 5: Deadline for Deportation of Syrian Chemical Weapons
Damascus had delivered less than 5 percent of its deadliest chemical weapons a week before the deadline to hand over the entire cache. Roughly 670 tons of category 1 chemical agents remain in Syria. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon has said it’s unlikely President Assad’s regime will meet its deadline. The US accused the Syrian administration of intentionally stalling at the end of January. Whether the government is dragging its feet—to test Western resolve, as some believe—or is simply delayed by the ongoing civil war could be reflected by its efforts in the next weeks.
- February 5: ICC Considers Case Against Kenyatta, The Hague
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was due to begin the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for crimes against humanity, but after two witnesses withdrew and admitted to false testimony, respectively, the prosecution delayed the start date. The defense, in the meantime, asked the ICC to throw out the case for lack of evidence. The Court weighs these matters on February 5. The defense previously asked for dismissal in 2012.
- February 7: South Sudan Talks Resume, Addis Ababa
After a month of conflict killed more than 1,000 people in South Sudan, a cease-fire was signed on January 23. As monitors for the shaky ceasefire arrive in the country, peace negotiations resume in Addis Ababa between government officials and oppositionists on February 7. During the fighting, more than 500,000 were forced from their homes, and over 70,000 are now seeking shelter at UN bases. Following the hostilities, the UN Security Council agreed to deploy 5,500 extra peacekeepers, to bring its strength up to 12,500.
- February 7: ICC Judges Katanga, The Hague
The Court delivers a final verdict on alleged Congolese warlord Germain Katanga, who is charged with orchestrating massacres in a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Originally, the defendant was tried alongside another, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, but he has since been acquitted because of a lack of sufficient evidence. This is the second case the Court took up since its founding in 2002.
- February 10 (Tentative): Syria Peace Talks Resume, Geneva
At the close of talks on January 31, UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi suggested the negotiations resume on February 10. Representatives from the Syrian opposition agreed to return while the delegation of the government had to consult with Damascus.
- Also of Interest:
• January 31-February 2: Munich Security Conference, Munich
• February 4: Gulf Countries Digital Security Forum, Qatar
• February 8: International Nuclear Watchdog, IAEA, to Check on Progress in Iran
• Feb 13: Security Council Briefed on Mission in Mali, New York
• Feb 15: UN Mandate in Burundi (BNUB) Expires
• February 22: Morsi Trial Resumes , Cairo
Elections and Votes
- February 2: Presidential, Legislative Assembly, Costa Rica
Elections for head of state and 57 legislative seats could dramatically shift directions for the small Central American country. Costa Ricans have shown a growing distaste for corruption allegations in President Laura Chinchilla’s administration, according to polls, and her conservative National Liberation Party (PLN) faces a serious challenge to its third consecutive hold on the coffee exporting nation. The leading challenger, from the leftist Broad Front Party, Jose Maria Vallalta, opposes free trade agreements and promises more taxes on the wealthy and financial institutions. A second round of elections will be held if no party gets 40 percent of the vote.
- February 2: Presidential, El Salvador
The economy and crime are the focal points of the Salvadoran race. A rebel group turned political party, FMLN, is backing Salvador Sanchez Ceren and the controversial and increasingly fragile gang truce aimed to ease decades of violence throughout the country. Sanchez Ceren’s platform includes extending welfare programs and incentives for energy development that current FMLN President Funes began. As the main contender, conservative Norman Quijano’s platform largely hinges on plans to combat the gang fighting, including invoking presidential powers to use the military and implementing a draft for 18-30 year-olds who don’t work or study. If no party wins 50 percent of the vote, a second poll takes place on March 9.
- February 2: Parliament, Thailand
500 seats in the House of Representatives are at stake in Thailand. The general election follows months of social unrest, with protests calling for the ouster of the present administration and the main opposition boycotting the poll. Recent clashes disrupted election preparations, and the election commission fears further violence. The Thai government is pushing ahead despite warnings that the country is too unsettled to hold polls.
- February 20: Libya Elects Constitution Drafting Assembly, Libya
Libyans vote for a 60-member assembly to draft a new constitution. The assembly, coming two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, will be comprised equally of representatives from the three regions.The assembly has 120 days to draft a new constitution, after which it will be put to a referendum. If it passes, parliamentary elections will be scheduled for late 2014.
Additional Multilateral Meetings
- February 11: Unprecedented China-Taiwan Talks, Nanjing
For the first time since Mao Zedong drove the opposition off the mainland in 1949, China and Taiwan will meet for an official political meeting. China, which still considers Taiwan part of its territory, will host Taipei’s Minister of Mainland Affairs in Nanjing. In 2008, Taiwanese President Ma moved the country away from independence-leaning policies and cleared a path for more trade and tourism with China. In 2013, bilateral trade reached almost $200 billion, nearly double figures from before the economic ties opened up. It would seem that trade may thaw a 65-year-old stalemate. On the other hand, China still has 1,000 missiles pointed directly at its island neighbor.
- February 19: North American Leaders Summit, Toluca
US President Barack Obama travels to Toluca, Mexico to discuss regional trade and security with Mexican President Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Harper. Held annually since 2005, this trilateral meeting is often referred to as the Three Amigos Summit. This year is the first NALS meeting with a new Mexican president attending.
- February 27: EU-Brazil Summit 2014, Brussels
Leaders discuss international peace and security, climate change—including outcomes from the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development—energy issues, and an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement. This is the seventh Brazil-EU Strategic Partnership meeting aimed to enhance the strong ties between the two entities.
- Also of Interest:
• February 4-6: C40 Cities Climate Leadership Summit
•February 6: Opening of the Winter Olympics, Sochi
• February 6: International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation
• February 10: Euro Foreign Ministers Meeting on EU-Cuba Relation, Brussels
• February 12: Serbia-Kosovo Normalization Talks, Brussels
• February 20: World Day of Social Justice