Key Global Events to Watch in May

At the start of every month, the Global Observatory posts a list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs.




  • May 20-21: NATO Summit, Chicago
    President Barack Obama will host NATO leaders in Chicago for the 25th summit of NATO – this will be the second summit meeting in the US in May, directly following the G8 summit at Camp David (see below).

    Three key issues will be discussed in Chicago: Afghanistan, NATO capabilities, and NATO partnerships. The discussions on Afghanistan will center on the practical challenges of handing over responsibility for security to Afghan authorities by 2014, i.e., an agreement on an interim milestone in 2013 when ISAF’s mission will shift from combat to support for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF); an agreement on the size, cost and sustainment of the ANSF beyond 2014; and a roadmap for NATO’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan. The discussions on capabilities will focus on missile defense and on how to prioritize core material and structural capabilities that keep NATO nimble and battle effective, even in times of fiscal austerity. Finally, the segments on NATO partnerships will focus on NATO’s relationships with non-NATO countries that provide material and combat support, e.g., in Afghanistan, on candidate countries, and on relations with Russia.

  • May 23: Baghdad Negotiations on Iran
    Negotiators will reconvene in the capital of Iraq to see whether an interim deal can be struck between Iran and the international community, represented by its main interlocutors from the P5+1 (the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany). As was discussed in a recent interview on the Global Observatory, the Baghdad meeting will likely not lead to any kind of comprehensive agreement, but focus on addressing Iran’s underground enrichment facility at Fordo and on ways to deal with 20% enriched uranium in Iran – that is to stop further enrichment as well as sending the existing stockpiles of 20% enriched uranium out of the country.
  • Also of interest:

    • May 29-30: 6th ASEAN Defence Ministerial Meeting (ADMM)


  • May 6: Parliamentary elections in Greece
    A lot is at stake when Greeks will head to the polls on Sunday, May 6, 2012. Amidst the challenges of implementing the international bailout plan for Greece, of providing hard-hit Greek banks with fresh capital, high unemployment, growing poverty, and social unrest, the election of a new parliament and the prospect of a new government will be closely watched by Greeks as well as by people in Europe and beyond. According to analysts, the elections are unlikely to produce a decisive outcome – opinion polls show a fairly even split of likely votes between several parties – and a second round of elections may be necessary. 
  • May 6: Second Round of Presidential elections in France
    The French electorate will head to the polls for the run-off in the presidential elections. In the first round, Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande won 28.6% of the votes, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy got 27.2%.  In the run-off between Hollande and Sarkozy the key element are the voter migrations, i.e., how the votes from the other first-round candidates (Marine Le Pen: 17.9%; Jean-Luc Melenchon: 11.1%; Francois Bayrou: 9.1%) will be distributed among the two remaining candidates. According to recent polls, Francois Hollande still stands a good chance of winning. The elections are also being closely watched outside of France, particularly because of the candidates’ diverging visions for Europe and on austerity, particularly on the European Fiscal Stability Treaty, which Francois Hollande has criticized does not do enough to stimulate growth and the terms of which he has stated he might want to renegotiate. 
  • May 6: Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Serbia
    Serbia is headed for a major political re-shuffle with presidential, parliamentary, as well as some regional elections taking place all at the same time. Polls predict a head-to-head battle for the presidency between Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party (DS) and Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), with a run-off two weeks later likely; in the parliamentary elections the winner between these two parties will more likely build a coalition with the Socialist Party, which therefore is playing a decisive role in determining the governing majority. Besides the close race and internal economic and political issues, a lot of attention is being paid to rising tensions over the participation of Serbs living in Kosovo in the elections. In order to prevent potential outbreaks of violence, NATO has deployed 700 troops
  • May 23-24: Presidential elections in Egypt
    Egyptian presidential elections are in many respects the crucial event of the Egyptian transition from the Mubarak regime. The future of the country hinges on this poll since it should signal—if all goes according to plan—the end of the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. However, considering the increasingly haphazard transition process, and the reluctance of the Army to submit to the decisions of others, there are considerable causes for concern. Even if the elections proceed as scheduled, the lack of experience among Egyptian political parties make the polls a risky experiment in itself, with the last Mubarak-era prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, among the top contenders. Other favorites are the former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, the Muslim Brotherhood’s  Mohammed Morsi, and a so-called liberal Islamist (and Muslim Brotherhood reject) Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh.
  • Also of interest:

    • May 2: Presidential elections in Hungary

    • May 6: Parliamentary elections in Armenia

    • May 10: Parliamentary elections in Algeria

Other Multilateral Meetings

  • May 18-19: G8 Summit, Camp David
    The G8 summit is the first of two highly anticipated summit meetings hosted by the United States in the month of May. The G8 meeting which was initially also supposed to take place in Chicago was moved to Camp David following an announcement by the White House in the beginning of March. The agenda has not yet been published after the last-minute change of venue, but is likely to include anticorruption, rule of law, democracy, expanding education, and strengthening civil society engagement.
  • Also of interest:

    • May 1-2: WTO General Council meeting in Geneva

    • May 2-3: International Conference on Afghan Displacement

    • May 9-11: World Economic Forum on Africa 2012 in Addis Ababa

    • May 14-25: Bonn Climate Change Conference, First sessional period of the UNFCCC

    • May 20-June 5: APEC Second Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) in Kazan, Russia

    • May 21: WHO Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly in Geneva

    • May 22-23: OECD Forum 2012

    • May 23-24: OECD Council meeting at ministerial level

    • May 28: 3rd preparatory committee meeting, UN conference on sustainable development