Key Global Events to Watch in January

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




  • January 8-10: 1540 Civil Society Forum, Vienna, Austria
    This meeting of representatives of civil society titled “Opportunities for Engagement” offers an opportunity to broaden support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 by member states. The 2004 resolution imposes binding obligations on all states to adopt legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and their means of delivery, and establish appropriate domestic controls over related materials to prevent their illicit trafficking. It also encourages enhanced international cooperation on such efforts. The meeting, hosted by the Federal Ministry for European Affairs and International Affairs of Austria, in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament, builds upon previous efforts to engage civil society in support of full implementation of the resolution.
  • January 14-18: Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, Geneva, Switzerland
    The issue of information security has been on the UN agenda since the Russian Federation’s sponsored resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998. The Group of Governmental Experts meets periodically to examine threats from the cybersphere and possible cooperative measures to address them. This third GGE has three one-week meetings: the first was held in New York in August 2012; the second will be held in Geneva in January; and the last in June in New York. The GGE will report to the 68th session of the General Assembly in September 2013. Members of the GGE include: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Canada, China, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, UK, and USA.
  • January 30- February 1: United Nations/Japan Conference on Disarmament Issues, Shizuoka, Japan
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will chair a high-level conference to raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Syria. The conference follows a $1.5 billion appeal launched in late December by the UN and its partners who have been hampered in their efforts to carry out relief activities due to lack of funds. The bulk of the appeal – $1 billion – is to support refugees fleeing Syria to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt. It is based on estimates that up to a million Syrian refugees will need help during the first half of next year. Another $519 million will be needed to support an estimated four million people inside Syria who need urgent humanitarian assistance, including an estimated two million internally displaced persons.
  • January 31: United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) Mandate Expires
    Before the end of the month, the UN Security Council is likely to renew the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). Due to the recent developments following the uprising by the Seleka rebel coalition, the Council could also call on all parties to abide by the 2007 and 2008 peace agreements. After attacks on several towns in December, rebels in CAR have reportedly halted their advance on the capital, Bangui, and agreed to start peace talks.


  • January 22: General Election (Snap), Israel
    Early parliamentary elections will be held in Israel to elect the 19th Knesset. The elections were called in early October 2012 after a failure to agree on the 2013 budget. There is an overall agreement that Benjamin Netanyahu’s party Likud is headed to a victory in coalition with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu. However, the latest poll shows the joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition continuing to weaken. In contrast, support for the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party is soaring. At this rate, it could end up as the Knesset’s second largest party, passing the Labor.
  • January 23: Jordan Holds Early Parliamentary Elections
    2012 has been a difficult year for the Hashemite Kingdom. Demands to redraw electoral districts, in order to give more weight to the currently underrepresented urban areas where most of the Palestinian population live, could upset the whole power balance. The king has also repeatedly stated that the next prime minister will be appointed for the first time by the Parliament and not the royal court. For these reasons, the stakes for the coming elections are high. The implication is that the carousel of governments should be over (six prime ministers since the start of the 2011 Arab Spring) and the new government serve a full four-year parliamentary term. However, if participation in the election is low and the boycott extends beyond the Islamist movement, polarization within Jordanian politics and society might lead to troubling scenarios.
  • Also of Interest:
    •    January 11: 1st Presidential Election, Czech Republic

Other Multilateral Meetings

  • January 14-15: Asian Financial Forum, Hong Kong
    The sixth Asian Financial Forum (AFF) will bring together global financial and business leaders to discuss dynamics and trends in the Asian financial markets. The last AFF forum, held in January 2012, attracted more than 2,000 participants and 400 journalists from 32 countries.
  • January 15-19: World Future Energy Summit and International Water Summit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
    The sixth annual summit of energy world leaders and the first International Water Summit will be hosted by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government-owned renewable energy company. The World Future Energy Summit will bring together government officials, experts, as well as project owners and solution providers with investors and buyers from both the public and private sectors.2013 will mark the first year of the International Water Summit, which will be held in conjunction with the World Future Energy Summit. The International Water Summit focuses on the link between water and energy and the specific challenges in arid environments. The event will include a political summit, expert conference, and exhibition for delegates and water experts from all over the world.
  • January 21-28: African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    The next AU Summit is taking place under the presidency of Chad under the theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.” This will be the first opportunity for the newly-elected chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to exercise her leadership to smooth away any leftover rifts from the July summit which was split over her election. Another task for the chairperson is to re-engage major regional players, such as Nigeria and Ethiopia, who were absent during the last summit. Among other issues, the gathering will have to discuss the report on the transformation of the African Union Commission into an authority of the organization, which was postponed in the last meeting.
  • January 22: Global Energy Basel Summit, Basel, Switzerland
    The third Global Energy Basel Summit (GEB) will be organized under the overall title “New financing for sustainable infrastructure – Strategic Challenges.” The GEB provides a multi-stakeholder environment for discussing strategies and policies for financing sustainable infrastructure. It will showcase best practices for sustainable development in cities, by national governments, and the private sector. The summit includes an Investment Forum, where the GEB-graded Infrastructure Projects are presented to potential investors.
  • January 23-27: World Economic Forum Annual Conference, Davos, Switzerland
    “Resilient Dynamism” is the overarching theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. World leaders from governments, business, non-profit, media, and celebrities will ascend to the beautiful alpine village to discuss ways to facilitate global transformation for risk-resilient societies.
  • Also of Interest:
    •    January 1: Russia to Assume Presidency of the G20
    •    January 1: United Kingdom to Assume Presidency of the G8
    •    January 1: Ireland to Assume Presidency of the EU
    •    January 5: International Conference on Government, Law, and Culture, Hong Kong (more info)
    •    January 23-25: Ninth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic & Social Sustainability, Hiroshima, Japan (more info)
    •    UNU Conference on Earth System Governance, Tokyo, Japan (more info)