At the start of every month, the Global Observatory posts a list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs.
Aug 1: European treaty on violence against women comes into force, Europe
The first European treaty to specifically target violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, will come into force on August 1 following the 10th ratification by Andorra. The convention closes the gap in the protection of fundamental human rights of women by requiring state parties to prevent violence, protect victims, prosecute the perpetrators, and to co-ordinate any such measures through comprehensive policies. As it enters into force, the convention has so far been signed by 36 states, of which 13 have already ratified it.
Aug 2: Afghan President Karzai’s term scheduled to end, Kabul
On August 2, incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai is scheduled to step down after 13 years in power, even as an international audit of over 8 million votes to determine the winner in the presidential vote is still underway. Karzai has reportedly reiterated his intention to stick to the August 2 deadline, despite the fact that the auditing deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry has been marred by both criticism and delays. Whether the audit will be completed by then, or whether Karzai will step down, are still open questions, but the date is expected to bring some new development to the impasse.
Aug 3-4: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Nepal, Kathmandu
India’s newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay an official visit to Nepal, marking the first official bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister to Kathmandu in 17 years. Modi’s visit will seek to strengthen ties with Nepal as part of a regional outreach strategy and, after June’s visit to Bhutan, it is his second official bilateral visit since he took office in May. Some sources suggest that India’s overture toward its neighbors is part of a strategy to counter China’s influence in the region. One of the primary issues the two heads of state are likely to discuss is Beijing’s role in Nepal. These same sources point to how Nepal’s strategic importance for India may have come under attack in light of China’s recent efforts to enlarge its strategic footprint there.
Aug 4: Libya’s Congress hands over power to newly-elected Libyan Parliament, Tripoli
Libya’s General National Congress (GNC), which has governed the country since the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, will hand over legislative power to the newly-elected chamber. Elections for the new Parliament took place at the end of June, and results were released at the end of July. The transfer of legislative power comes in the midst of intensified fighting between different groups over control of Tripoli airport. Abdullah al-Thani, the leader of the interim ruling GNC, called for “an immediate end” to the fighting before it led the country to “a point of no return,” news agencies report.
Aug 4-6: US-Africa Leaders Summit, Washington, DC
US President Barack Obama will welcome leaders from nearly 50 African states for a three-day US-Africa summit, the first such event of its kind. According to the US government, the summit will be the largest event any United States president has held with African heads of state and government, and it will build on Obama’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013. The large event is expected to set the stage for stronger ties between the United States and the African continent. According to an African Union official, the summit should provide the US and Africa with the opportunity to enter into a “strategic partnership.” Although it will focus on trade and investment opportunities, the summit will also address issues related to civil society, global health, women’s issues, wildlife trafficking, climate change, and food security.
Aug 6: Trial of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López resumes, Caracas
The trial of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López will resume on August 6 after a first session held on July 23. López has been in custody since February, when he was captured by government forces and accused of inciting violence during the riots that shook the country at the time. Peaceful protests against rising crime and inflation began in late January in western Venezuela but later descended into violence in the capital, leading to the death of 42 people. López, 43, has been a long-time critic of both Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez. He has accused the government of jailing Venezuelans for seeking democratic change, the BBC reports.
Aug 6-9: Africa Media and Democracy Conference, Accra
The Africa Media and Democracy Conference (AMDMC) will host its bi-annual Africa Media and Democracy Conference in the capital city of Ghana, Accra. The theme of this year’s conference will be “Media, Democracy and Development,” and it will seek to examine the impact of the media on democracy. According to the AMDMC, the media has emerged “as a formidable constituent as it vies for legitimacy in representing the broad masses,” and this calls for a better understanding of how this new phenomenon affects the democratic process. UN and government agencies, in addition to civil society organizations and academics, are expected to attend the four-day event.
Aug 7: UN-backed tribunal issues verdict on Khmer Rouge atrocity crimes, Phnom Penh
The UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia tribunal—also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal—will issue its final verdict in the trial of two senior Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. The verdict concerns the first phase of the trial which focuses mainly on the alleged crimes related to the forced movement of people and the executions of soldiers following the Khmer Rouge takeover in April 1975. The communist Khmer Rouge regime oversaw the systematic killing of nearly two million Cambodians, in what is believed to be one of the worst cases of genocide of the 20th century.
Aug 9-10: Asian leaders gather at ASEAN regional forum, Naypyidaw
Asian heads of state will convene in the capital of Myanmar for this year’s regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Important developments are expected at this summit, including an overture by the new Indian government toward Myanmar itself, which currently holds the ASEAN presidency. According to some reports, Myanmar has become a “crucial part of India’s neighborhood policy” partly because it is the “place where Indian and Chinese influences intersect.” During the forum, ASEAN member states will grapple with issues such as the ongoing territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and the question of North Korea’s nuclear program. Sources suggest that North Korea’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister, Ri Su-yong, may attend the forum, “raising speculation of possible inter-Korean contact.”
Aug 10: Presidential elections, Turkey
Turkish voters will head to the polls on August 10 to choose their next president as incumbent Abdullah Gul’s seven-year term expires. This will be the first time that Turkey’s head of state is chosen by the voters themselves, and not by the parliament. Following the recent changes in Turkey’s constitution, the presidential term will last five years instead of seven. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is running, although he has reiterated his wish to see the constitution further amended to turn what is now a largely ceremonial post into a more powerful executive role. The other two candidates are Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Selahattin Demirtaş, head of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). The two biggest opposition parties in the parliament are believed to be backing İhsanoğlu as their preferred candidate. If the August 10 round does not deliver a clear winner, a second round will be held on August 24.
Aug 11: South Sudan’s opposition factions face deadline to form interim government, Juba
South Sudan’s warring factions face a looming August 11 deadline to form an interim government before the country’s conflict is deemed a “lost cause.” In a July 23 statement, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)—the body currently mediating the peace effort—noted that the August 11 deadline is part of a “tentatively scheduled” negotiating process to which all the “stakeholders have reiterated their commitment.” The civil war in South Sudan—the world’s newest country—suddenly erupted at the end of 2013 when troops under the control of President Salva Kiir’s government clashed with rebel forces headed by former Vice-President Riek Machar. The violence that has ensued has so far left thousands of people dead and has led to the displacement of nearly 1.5 million people.
Aug 17: Mali, northern rebels resume negotiations on roadmap to peace, Algiers (Postponed to Sept 1)
The Malian government will return to Algiers, Algeria on August 17 to resume peace talks with Tuareg leaders. The negotiations’ stated purpose is to address “questions of substance” with regard to the conflict in the country’s northern regions. The August 17 round follows a first round held from July 16-24, part of the Algeria-brokered peace process that seeks to put an end to nearly 50 years of intermittent uprisings orchestrated by northern tribes seeking independence from the central government. This round of negotiations is expected to last until September 11, and a third one—which will focus on security, reconciliation, and humanitarian issues—is likely to take place in October, news report suggest. The date for a final round that would include the signing of a peace agreement has not been set yet.
Aug 21: Indonesia’s Constitutional Court issues verdict on losing presidential candidate appeal, Jakarta
On August 21, Indonesia’s highest court is expected to issue its final verdict on whether the presidential elections conducted on July 9 were carried out properly. The suit was filed by the losing candidate, ex-general Prabowo Subianto, who won 47 percent of the vote leaving Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo as the frontrunner with a 53 percent majority. Although Subianto’s lawyers have claimed that millions of votes cast for the ex-general have gone missing, election and constitutional law experts doubt the court will rule in his favor, the New York Times reports.
Aug 24: Breakaway Abkhazia region holds early presidential elections, Abkhazia
On August 24, Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia will hold presidential elections following Alexander Ankvab’s June resignation. His resignation came after days of intense street demonstrations which saw citizens accusing him of corruption and misrule. Immediately following his decision to step down, a majority in Abkhazia’s parliament voted to hold early elections. Regardless of the outcome, the breakaway region is expected to maintain close ties to Russia, on which it relies for political and economic assistance, Reuters reports.
Aug 25: India, Pakistan foreign secretaries meet, Islamabad
The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on August 25 for the first time in two years. The meeting, an attempt to improve bilateral relations between the two nuclear-armed states, will also seek to revive the dialogue process that has been stalled since the 2013 ceasefire violations that resulted in a series of border skirmishes between the two regional rivals. The decision of India’s newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send his foreign secretary on a diplomatic venture to Islamabad is the second goodwill gesture on the part of Modi: At his inauguration, he invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a move US Secretary of State John Kerry called an “important first step” in improving relations between the two countries.
Aug 25: Iran faces deadline in IAEA nuclear bomb probe
August 25 marks the deadline for Iran to demonstrate to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that it is stepping up cooperation in the investigation concerning its suspected atomic bomb research. The deadline refers to Iran’s commitment to implement five nuclear transparency measures, Reuters reports. The same reports also note, however, that as of July 22, Iran had not made any apparent progress with the implementation of the measures. Meeting this deadline and appropriately implementing the technical measures are seen as essential steps for the negotiations between Iran and six world powers (the P5 plus Germany) on a comprehensive nuclear deal to succeed. Last month, the deadline for a comprehensive agreement was extended by four months, thus pushing the final date to November 2014.
Aug 28-29: 2nd Brazil-Africa Forum, Fortaleza
The northeastern city of Fortaleza will host the second Brazil-Africa Forum, an event that brings together representatives of governments from Brazil and several African countries, as well as from the private sector. The forum will address ways that can enable partners from across the African continent and Brazil to better cooperate in development and infrastructure projects, private investment, energy production, and waste dispostal.
Aug 30: EU to fill top two posts, Brussels
European Union leaders will gather in Brussels on August 30 for a second attempt at filling the Union’s top two posts after no decision was reached at the first July 17 attempt. The two posts are the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security—currently held by Lady Catherine Ashton—and the President of the European Council—a position currently held by former Belgian prime minister Herman Van Rompuy. Ashton and Van Rompuy have been the first officials to fill the two posts created by the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. The high representative is also the vice president of the European Commission and is essentially the EU’s foreign minister; the council president chairs all summits of EU prime ministers and represents the EU internationally. The choice will have to satisfy all three of the EU’s main political parties, the center-right EPP, the Social Democrats, and the Liberals, the Financial Times reports.