Key Global Events to Watch in July

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




  • July 2-27: United Nations Arms Trade Treaty Conference
    This summer, delegates from approximately 150 countries will gather in New York to negotiate a draft Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The treaty negotiations are not certain to succeed (successful negotiations would result in the adoption of the treaty later this year) and, given the interests of key UN member states that are also major weapons exporters, loopholes and exceptions may enter the final text.

    The main goal of the ATT is to put into place global standards to decrease the likelihood that weapons enter the illicit market. To achieve this, before approving an arms transfer, states would have to consider impact criteria concerning the potential use of the weapons, as well as the question of who the potential users might be. The ATT may also contain provisions regulating the $4 billion annual trade in ammunition.

    The Economist reported that many respectable arms manufacturers in Europe and the United States are keen on the ATT, as it would impose a common global standard, superseding a complex set of national rules. Whether a successful outcome can be achieved remains to be seen, the ongoing crisis in Syria risks further complicating this contentious issue.

  • July 3: P5+1 Talks on Iran, Istanbul
    With another round of far-reaching sanctions on Iranian crude oil having taken effect, negotiators in the long-standing dispute over Iran’s nuclear program are scheduled to meet in Istanbul for a round of follow-up talks at a technical level. After two so far unsuccessful rounds of negotiations this year, pressure and impatience are increasing. The economic cost of the escalating sanctions regime is hurting Iran, and with Iran remaining intransigent on its nuclear program, the risk of military confrontation is also rising.

    The key demands on Iran are for it to halt production of 20 percent enriched uranium; to swap the existing 20 percent uranium stockpiles for nuclear fuel that can only be used for peaceful purposes (e.g. the Tehran Research Reactor); and to close the underground facility at Fordo. In return, the P5+1 are offering to not impose more sanctions and grant access to spare parts for airplanes. Iran, however, demands that its right to enrich uranium be recognized, that it can keep all of its nuclear facilities, and that sanctions are removed. Overcoming the gulf between the negotiating parties does not seem likely in the short-term.

  • July 6: Friends of Syria Meeting, Paris
    Following the meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva over the weekend, where a much-criticized agreement on a transition government for Syria was struck, major stakeholders will be hosted by the French government in Paris on July 6 for the third “Friends of Syria” meeting. The group of 70 states, which does not include Russia and China, will gather in Paris to support the Syrian transition process and seek to get broader endorsement of the agreement struck in Geneva.

    Meanwhile, the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) ends on July 20, and, given the lack of progress on the ground, it is expected that the current observer mission composed of 300 military observers–who suspended their activities and patrols on June 16 because of escalating violence in the country–may be downsized to a small political mission/office, and that its military leadership by General Mood of Norway may be transferred to a senior civilian person.

  • July 8: Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo
    The governments of Japan and of Afghanistan will cohost a major international conference to discuss the future of Afghanistan after 2014 when the International Security Assistance (ISAF) will transfer security authority to the government of Afghanistan. The two main themes are sustainable development of Afghanistan as well as the post-2014 partnership of the international community with Afghanistan, i.e., once NATO’s mission draws down. Key discussion points will be what kind of mutual commitments the international community and the government of Afghanistan will make in terms of a sustainable development strategy, aid coordination, and improvements on governance of the Afghan government. Furthermore, regional economic cooperation and possible follow-up mechanisms will be on the agenda.
  • July 9-16: African Union Summit, Addis Ababa
    Following the controversy surrounding Malawi’s President Joyce Banda’s announcement to deny Sudanese President Omar al Bashir entry to Malawi due to the arrest warrant against him by the ICC, the AU decided to move the summit back to Addis Ababa instead of Lilongwe. During the summit the issue of the AU’s leadership will be at the forefront once more with both candidates—incumbent Jean Ping and South Africa’s Nkozasana Zuma—running again after failing to secure the election earlier this year in March.
  • In July: Briefing by SRSG Albert Koenders on the UN Operation in Cote D’Ivoire (UNOCI)
    A little over a year after the end of the post-electoral crisis Cote d’Ivoire, SRSG Albert Koenders will brief the Council this month on the UN Operation in Cote D’Ivoire (UNOCI). While a downsizing of the UN mission was long expected following the holding of legislative elections in December 2011 with limited violent incidents, the death of seven UN peacekeepers from Niger on June 8 in an attack in western Cote d’Ivoire near the border with Liberia, and the general insecurity in that part of the country, is likely to plead in favor of a renewal of the mandate at current troop and police levels. Also, while President Ouattara’s economic governance reforms have been praised, experts continue to express concerns over slow progress in areas of political reconciliation, security sector reform, and justice.


  • July 1: Presidential Election, Mexico
    Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was elected president of Mexico, winning by 5.4% over rival Lopez Obrador, bringing a change of government after twelve years of consecutive rule by the National Action Party (PAN) party. The PRI party is known for having ruled Mexico as a virtual one-party state for 71 years until July 2000, as well as a reputation for old style “boss” politics.

    Peña Nieto aims to implement economic reforms, which will create jobs and increase wages, and open the state-owned oil company Pemex to private investment. Peña Nieto has also promised to refocus the drug war towards combating violence afflicting Mexicans, rather than using the militarized approach seen under PAN. It is projected that the PRI will not win a majority in Congress, which may force it to seek alliances with other parties to pursue its reform agenda.

  • July 7: Libya Holds Election to Form Public National Conference
    On July 7, the Libyan people will hold the country’s first general elections after the fall of the Qaddafi regime. In the polls—which have already been delayed once—a 200-member national assembly will be chosen, charged with forming a government and a committee tasked with drafting a new Constitution within four months.

    The plethora of political parties represented–142 in total–and the fact that the majority of seats are earmarked for independent candidates, means that the identity of Libyan institutions will not be immediately obvious. The elections could be a major stepping stone for the transition in the country—as well as the region—as the new government could gain the legitimacy the current NTC lacks. However, considering the chaos which reigns in Libya, the process could just as easily breakdown. Either way, the outcome of the vote may lead to the reconsidering or fine-tuning of UNSMIL’s mandate in the Fall, with the UN “light footprint” likely to remain the preferred option.           

  • July 19: Presidential Election, India
    On July 19, India will elect a new president for a five-year term. India has a parliamentary democracy, thus the president serves as a constitutional figurehead with largely ceremonial powers. The president is not elected by the people, but rather through an electoral college comprising of members of the lower and upper Houses of Parliament.

    While the president is a symbolic figure, the elections often take on a political significance as different parties use the election to flex their muscles and test out their popularity by pitching candidates for the post. Nominations have been filed for 42 candidates, each backed by a different party or coalition of parties. However, the candidate likely to win the race will be the ruling Congress Party’s pick, the current finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. The election results will be declared on July 22.

  • Also of interest:

    • July 1: Mexico, Legislative Elections

    • July 1: Senegal, Parliamentary Elections

    • July 7: Timor-Leste, Parliamentary Elections

    • July 15: Congo (Brazzaville) Legislative Elections

Other Multilateral Meetings

  • July 2-27: ECOSOC Substantive Session
    The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)of the United Nations will convene its annual substantive session in New York during the month of July. The session will kick off with the high level segment between July 2-9, which includes the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), the high-level forum which assesses progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and where best practices are shared and discussed with a view to scaling them up globally.

    The Secretary-General has contributed two reports providing input and background to the deliberations in New York. In the first report, he outlines ideas for macroeconomic policies that promote “sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth in pursuit of poverty eradication.” The second report focuses on “promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty.” Finally, beyond the core development topics, the humanitarian segment, which will take place between July 18-20, is an important forum for discussion of humanitarian issues. Important topics this year include “partnerships” as well as the use of “evidence-based decision-making” in humanitarian assistance.

  • Also of interest:

    • July 1-4: World Cities Summit, Singapore