Key Global Events to Watch in March

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

March 3: Israeli PM Netanyahu to address US Congress, Washington, DC

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the United States Congress on March 3, two weeks ahead of legislative elections in Israel. The announcement has caused controversy both in Israel and the US, as Mr. Netanyahu is expected to make his case against the sensitive negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, which he says are leading to a “dangerous” agreement.

March 3: EU hosts international conference on Ebola, Brussels

On March 3, the European Union will host a high-level international conference on Ebola to take stock of the fight against the outbreak, coordinate future action for the eradication of the disease, and discuss the recovery process in the most affected countries. The conference will be co-chaired by the governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Togo and by the United Nations, the African Union, and other key partners in the fight against the disease.

March 3-5: Global Security Asia 2015 Conference, Singapore

This year’s Global Security Asia conference, Asia’s largest event of its kind, will take place in Singapore from March 3-5. The event is held every two years, and this edition is expected to address Asia’s current and emerging security threats and discuss state and societal responses. In particular, government representatives, civil society, and security-sector specialists will discuss how the rise of the Islamic State has affected the continent’s security landscape.

March 5: South Sudan factions face deadline to reach final peace deal

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar face a March 5 deadline to agree on a final peace agreement that would end the violence that erupted in the world’s newest country in December 2013. Both sides have accused each other of violating multiple agreements over the last year; most recently, a monitoring team from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) confirmed that the February 1 deal was violated by both sides. The conflict has killed over 50,000 people and has internally displaced nearly two million in a little over a year.

March 7: Withdrawal of heavy weapons from Eastern Ukraine to be completed

The parties to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which has so far killed more than 5,600 people, are expected to withdraw their heavy weaponry from the frontlines by March 7. The withdrawal was initially expected to take place by March 3 under the terms of a February 12 cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus, among the governments of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine, but has been since postponed.

March 8: Retrial of two Al Jazeera journalists begins, Cairo

The retrial of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed, the two Al Jazeera journalists who have been detained by the Egyptian government for over a year, is scheduled to begin on March 8. The two reporters were released on bail pending a retrial on February 13 after spending 441 days in jail on charges of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. The retrial had initially been scheduled for February 23.

March 9-20: 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, UN headquarters, New York

Following International Women’s Day on March 8, United Nations member states, representatives from UN agencies, and world NGOs will gather at UN headquarters in New York from March 9-20 for the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The two-week session will discuss the achievements and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a document adopted in 1995 to support and promote gender equality around the world. The session will also address opportunities for achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda.

March 14-18: Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai

The third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in the Japanese city of Sendai from March 14-18. The conference, established through General Assembly resolution 67/209, is expected to draw nearly 8,000 participants from NGOs, governments, and parliaments to discuss the implementation of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

March 17: Snap parliamentary elections, Israel

Israelis will head to the polls on March 17 to elect their next government. Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, whose running mate is former justice minister and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni. The campaign has so far focused on Israel’s relations with the US and Iran’s nuclear negotiations, but has ostensibly left the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unaddressed.

March 19: Thailand’s Supreme Court decides on proceedings against former prime minister, Bangkok

On March 19, Thailand’s highest court will decide whether to proceed with the trial of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Ms. Shinawatra was deposed in a military coup last year and is currently facing fraud charges over her government’s rice-pledging scheme. If charged, the former official could face a 10-year prison term.

March 21: Egypt holds parliamentary elections for first time since 2012

Egypt’s parliamentary elections were scheduled to begin on March 21. The vote is now likely to be delayed following a court ruling on the constitutionality of Egypt’s election law. The country has been without a parliament since 2012 when a court ordered the first democratically elected house dissolved, the Associated Press reports.

March 23: UN Human Rights Council to publish report on 50-day Gaza war

On March 23, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations will release its report investigating human rights violations by both sides in the Israel-Hamas war of 2014. The conflict killed more than 2,100 Palestinians—most of them civilians—as well as 67 Israeli soldiers and six Israeli civilians. In early February, shortly after commission chairman William Schabas resigned, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that the body shelve its work. The council announced it would continue forward with the inquiry and publish its findings on the determined date.

March 23-27: Third session of the Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations, UN headquarters

The third session of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and Targets will take place at United Nations headquarters in New York from March 23-27. The session will be an opportunity for member states and other stakeholders to provide their input to the review process by organizing side events and discussions. More information is available here.

March 28: Presidential elections, Nigeria

Nigeria’s presidential elections, first scheduled for February 14, are now expected to take place on March 28. The government announced the delay due to security reasons after a series of attacks at the hands of the militant extremist group Boko Haram. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan will seek a second term against challenger and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

March 28-29: Egypt hosts 26th Arab League Summit, Sharm el-Sheikh

On March 28-29, the Egyptian government will host the 26th summit of the Arab League, with national security topping the meeting’s agenda. The summit’s main topic will be “how to maintain national security in Arab countries,” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi told reporters at the league’s headquarters in Cairo. In particular, the summit will discuss the crises in Libya, Syria, and Yemen as well as the threat of the Islamic State.

March 31: Iran, six world powers face deadline for a political framework agreement

Iran and six world powers—China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—face a March 31 deadline to agree on a political framework that will set the stage for a final July 2015 deadline on Iran’s nuclear program. The parties have reached a sensitive stage as they discuss the extent of Iran’s uranium enrichment and the pace of removing sanctions. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met multiple times ahead of the March date in order to bridge existing gaps, but have so far failed to come to an agreement.

March 31: Third Donors Conference on Syrian humanitarian crisis, Kuwait

At the request of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on March 31 the Kuwaiti government will host a third conference to raise funds for UN humanitarian operations in Syria. According to the latest updates from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the four-year-long conflict has so far displaced over 3.8 million people, and the agency’s total funding appeal amounts to a little over 3.7 billion USD. UNHCR’s Antonio Guterres is expected to brief participants at the conference about the UN’s Syria plan for 2015. Kuwait has already hosted two such conferences over the past two years.

Also of interest:

March 1, 27: Parliamentary elections, Tajikistan

March 29: Presidential elections, Uzbekistan

UN Mission Mandates: The mandates of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), are set to expire on March 13, March 16, and March 31, respectively. The three mandates are all likely to be renewed.