Key Global Events to Watch in December

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

December 1-12: Peru hosts 20th meeting of world’s largest climate conference, Lima

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet for its 20th session in the Peruvian capital from December 1-12. The Lima conference is expected to address a number of contentious issues that negotiators failed to tackle at the 19th session, held last year in Warsaw. The conference will be an opportunity for Kyoto Protocol parties to assess the implementation of measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions and revise guidelines for national greenhouse gases inventories. The next conference is set to take place in Paris in late 2015.

December 1: Thai prime minister visits Malaysia to sign cooperation agreement, Kuala Lumpur

As the Thai leadership lays the groundwork for peace talks with southern insurgent groups, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will meet his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib in Kuala Lumpur on December 1 to discuss cooperation on promoting peace in southern Thailand. The southern region has seen years of fighting between the government and separatist insurgents along the border with Malaysia. The two leaders are expected to sign an agreement aimed at boosting their cooperation in quelling the unrest.

December 1: EU launches Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform, Ukraine

On December 1, the European Union will launch a two-year advisory mission to assist Ukrainian authorities in reforming the country’s police and rule of law sectors. The decision was announced on November 17, and came after a direct request for assistance from the Ukrainian government. The newly appointed EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin also signed a Status of Mission Agreement which defines how EU experts will assist Ukrainian authorities during their stay in the country.

December 2: French parliament votes on recognizing Palestine as a state, Paris

On December 2, the French parliament is scheduled to vote on a resolution to recognize Palestine as a state. The vote, an initiative of the Socialist party, comes against a backdrop of increased support for Palestinian statehood in Europe after Sweden became the first major European country to recognize the state in October. Over the past weeks, parliaments in Britain, Ireland, and Spain have passed similar non-binding measures urging their executives to recognize Palestinian statehood. A similar vote was expected at the European Parliament on November 27, but was cancelled due to disagreements over language. A new EU vote is scheduled for December 18.

December 2-3: NATO foreign ministers meet, Brussels

The foreign ministers of the 28 NATO members will convene in Brussels on December 2-3 for a series of high-level meetings to assess the state of the alliance. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin will also attend, especially to take part in the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission which will take place simultaneously. During the commission’s meeting, NATO members will receive information related to the work of Ukraine’s new government and will assess existing security challenges to the country. The ministerial gathering will also see US Secretary of State John Kerry chairing the first high-level ministerial meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition, according to a communique by the US Department of State.

December 4: UK, Afghan governments co-host conference on Afghanistan, London

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will co-host a major conference on Afghanistan on December 4 in London. The conference’s objective is to provide a platform for the new Afghan government to set out its vision for reform and for the international community to renew its solidarity and support for the country. The meeting comes at a crucial moment for the country, as the mandate of the international combat mission there since 2001 is set to expire at the end of 2014.

December 5: US President hosts Jordanian King Abdullah II, Washington, DC

US President Barack Obama will host King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House on December 5. The two heads of state are expected to discuss regional security issues, including joint efforts to counter ISIS, the conflict in Syria, and the humanitarian and refugee situation in the region.

December 5-7: 10th Manama Dialogue, Manama

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) will convene the 10th annual Regional Security Summit–the IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain from December 5-7. The Dialogue provides a platform for the national security establishments of the participating 20 governments to exchange views and perspectives on regional peace and security.

December 9-10: Qatar hosts 35th annual GCC summit, Doha

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will convene for its annual summit in Doha on December 9-10. The meeting comes at a sensitive time for the six-nation bloc, as the past months have seen a tense relationship between Qatar and the other members because of Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among other issues, the meeting is expected to launch a joint military command aimed at boosting the security cooperation in the Gulf.

December 10: Iran, six world powers hold nuclear talks after extension

Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany are expected to meet again on December 10 to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. This will be the first meeting since they decided to extend the negotiations last month after a final round in Vienna failed to produce an agreement. The parties now have until June 2015 to reach a final deal on Iran’s uranium enrichment, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes—a claim Western powers are seeking to ascertain.

December 10: Nobel Prize award ceremony, Stockholm

On December 10, Nobel Laureates take center stage in Stockholm to receive the Nobel Medal, the Nobel Diploma, and documents confirming the Nobel Prize amount from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The Nobel Peace Prize, the only Nobel ceremony that takes place in Oslo, was awarded jointly to Kailash Satyarthi of India and Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

December 11: Future of the Americas summit, Miami

Heads of state, NGO representatives, philanthropists, and private sector leaders from across the Americas will gather at the University of Miami on December 11 for the Future of the Americas summit—a major hemispheric summit hosted by former US president Bill Clinton. The summit, meant as a continuation of the first Summit of the Americas hosted by Mr. Clinton two decades ago, seeks to lay the foundations for another 20 years of development, growth, and innovation in the Western Hemisphere.

December 14: Japan holds snap parliamentary elections

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek confirmation of his mandate during a snap parliamentary election on December 14, announced after he dissolved the body’s lower house on November 21. Mr. Abe, who has been in office for two years now, is seeking support for his “Abenomics” strategy, an economic plan that seeks to revive Japan’s economy by reforming its monetary policy, government spending, and public debt.

December 16: Liberia holds senatorial elections in the midst of Ebola outbreak

Liberia is scheduled to hold senatorial elections on December 16, even as its citizens are still grappling with the Ebola epidemic. The election was originally scheduled for October 16, but was postponed as hundreds of new Ebola cases were being reported each week at that time.

December 18: European Council Summit, Brussels

The European Council—the EU body that gathers the union’s 28 heads of statewill meet in Brussels on December 18-19 to discuss the EU’s economic stagnation and high unemployment levels. This will be the first summit to be headed by the newly appointed EU Council President Donald Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland. Mr. Tusk said that, in addition to boosting the union’s economy, his priority as president will be to solve the crisis in Ukraine.

December 24-26: Iraqi prime minister to pay official visit to Turkey, Ankara

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is expected for a cabinet visit to Ankara from December 24-26, following an invitation by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last month. During the visit, Mr. al-Abadi is expected to attend a joint cabinet meeting to discuss security and intelligence cooperation to face the ISIS threat.

December 28: Runoff presidential elections, Tunisia

Tunisians will head to the polls again on December 28 in a historic presidential election after a first round in November failed to yield a clear victor. The vote, which will decide the outcome of the first democratic presidential election since the country’s 2011 uprisings, sees interim President Moncef Marzouki facing Beji Caid Essebsi, who held the post of prime minister between February and December 2011. During the first round, Mr. Marzouki and Mr. Essebsi received 33.43 and 39.46 percent of the preferences, respectively.

December 28: Presidential elections, Croatia

Croatia, the newest member of the European Union, will hold presidential elections on December 28. The election will see six candidates contesting the votes, including incumbent President Ivo Josipovic. The vote comes in the midst of turbulent economic times, as the country goes through the sixth consecutive year of economic recession. If no candidate secures a majority, a second round will be held on January 11.

December 31: Mandate of UN-authorized ISAF mission set to expire, Afghanistan

The mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan will expire on December 31 after nearly 13 years. NATO, which has run the mission since 2003, will transfer control to Afghan forces beginning in January 2015. NATO members will maintain a small non-combat mission in the country after then, with the primary aim of training and supporting Afghan security forces. However, the mandate of US forces deployed there will still maintain a small combat role aimed at carrying out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups, according to a recent decision by the White House.

December 31: UNMIL mandate set to expire after Ebola extension, Liberia

The mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is set to expire on December 31 after a three-month extension due to the recent Ebola crisis. The mission mandate, first established in 2003 to support the ceasefire agreement and the peace process, was due to end on September 30, 2014 but with Resolution 2176 the Security Council unanimously decided to extend it until the end of December in order to maintain the necessary security conditions during the outbreak. The mandate is likely to get renewed and extended until September 30, 2015.