At the start of every month, the Global Observatory posts a list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs.
- April 1: Friends of Syria Meeting
Representatives of 70 countries — minus important players such as China, Russia, and Iran — gathered in Istanbul at the “Friends of Syria” conference to turn up pressure on Damascus to abide by Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. There was consensus among participating nations to support the efforts of Mr. Annan, yet little agreement emerged over other measures that might be taken, such as the establishment of humanitarian corridors; armaments of the opposition, and who should be recognized as the opposition; and what the Security Council should and could do.
- April 3-4: 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, and a variety of topics are on the agenda for this summit meeting, ranging from economic issues to narcotics and other security issues.
In the lead-up to the summit, ASEAN finance ministers have already endorsed a plan to double the resources of a common regional fund aimed at stabilizing currencies for a total of $302 billion. It is also planning to adopt a declaration on creating a drug-free zone, and to hold related discussions on border management, human and drug trafficking, and trade.
Finally, the South China Sea issue is a pressing concern, and there is no consensus among ASEAN countries on how to deal with territorial issues such as this. The urgency with which states seek to discuss this issue in the context of ASEAN, which is generally a consensus organization, is directly correlated with territorial stakes of the respective states as well as the relative dependence on China. (Read more about the summit at the ASEAN website)
- April 14: E3+3/P5+1 Talks on Iranian Nuclear Crisis
With the possibility of an Israeli strike looming, high-stakes negotiations between representatives of the Iranian government and the six-nation contact group consisting of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and the United States will likely take place in Istanbul. With new oil and banking sanctions about to take effect, Iran might be more inclined to make a compromise deal, but a comprehensive agreement is likely to remain elusive.
- April 26: The Special Court for Sierra Leone rules on former Liberian President Charles Taylor
At 11am, the judges of the Special Court will deliver the long-awaited verdict in the trial of Charles Taylor, which began in 2007 after his capture at the end of March 2006. Taylor is accused of having provided support to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during Sierra Leone’s 11-year conflict. His indictment lists 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone from November 1996 to January 2002.
Taylor has insisted on his innocence throughout the trial. Depending on the outcome of the trial–conviction or acquittal–there is likely going to be an appeal by the defense or the prosecution, respectively.
April 30-May 11: First Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in Vienna
On the tail of the second Nuclear Security Summit — which took place in March in Seoul, and was concerned with measures to safeguard nuclear stockpiles and prevent weapons-grade nuclear material getting into the hands of terrorist—the first of three preparatory sessions for the quinquennial NPT Review Conference will be convened in Vienna. The PrepCom will assess the implementation of each article of the NPT and facilitate discussion among states in order to make recommendations to the Review Conference.
- Also of interest:
• April 2-20: 2012 Substantive session of the Disarmament Commission
- April 1: Myanmar By-election
Forty five out of the 659 parliamentary seats were up for election in Myanmar, marking the first election there since the beginning of a liberalization process that has surprised observers for its pace and scope. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), participated in the elections and contested all available seats. In a highly symbolic victory, Aung San Suu Kyi appears to have won a parliament seat and her party won a big victory – currently it is projected to have secured 40 out of the 45 available seats (the official vote tally is not expected for another few days). This election marked a significant step forward in the democratization process of Myanmar. Yet, much work still lies ahead. Even if the NLD won all 45 seats, it doesn’t give it the majority needed to implement any major changes.
- April 21: Timor-Leste Presidential Election Second Round
In the second round of the Timorese presidential elections, Francisco Guterres Guterres, representing the Revolutionary Front of an Independent Timor-Leste (FRETILIN), will face off with Taur Matan Ruak of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT). This means Timor-Leste will get a new president, after the incumbent former rebel leader and war hero Jose Ramos Horta dropped out after a poor showing in the first round, where he only received 18% of the votes. Guterres Guterres and Matan Ruak won 29% and 25% of the votes in the first round, respectively.
- April 22: Presidential Election, France
Amid pressing challenges, such as the ongoing European financial crisis and a recent bout of terrorism in the South of France, France’s citizens will go to the polls on April 22. After trailing for much of the last year, President Sarkozy’s campaign has been gaining ground, yet his main challenger of the Socialist Party, Franҫois Hollande, maintains a small lead with several left- and right-wing candidates, thus splitting the vote further. A second round of voting is all but certain, and the final outcome remains wide open.
- April 22: Guinea-Bissau Second Round of Presidential Elections
A presidential runoff will be held in Guinea-Bissau on April 22. In the first round, which observers praised as having passed smoothly and transparently, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. took about 49 percent, and his opponent, Kumba Yala, received about 23 percent of the votes. Yala has complained over fraud in the first round, it remains to be seen whether he will participate in the runoff.
- Also of interest:
• April 11: Parliamentary Elections Republic of Korea
• April 29 (tentative): Snap Parliamentary Elections Greece
Other Multilateral Meetings
- April 14-15: The Sixth Summit of the Americas, Colombia
Thirty-four heads of state and governments will gather in Cartagena, Colombia at the Sixth Summit of Americas. The Summit takes place every three years; this year’s central theme, “Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity,” deals with the role of physical integration and regional cooperation as a means to achieve greater levels of development and to overcome the hemisphere’s challenges in several key areas, including poverty and inequalities, citizen security, disasters, and access to technologies.
- Also of interest:
• April 1-3: 9th Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference (DIHAD)
• April 20: G20 Finance Ministers to Meet, Washington, DC
• April 20-23: World Investment Forum 2012, Doha, Qatar
• April 21-26: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 13th Session (UNCTAD XIII), Doha, Qatar