Key Global Events to Watch in August

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

August 1: US Begins Libyan Military Offensive Against ISIS

The United States began a bombing campaign in Libya against the Islamic State on August 1. The offensive expands the campaign against ISIS from its present operations in Iraq and Syria, and US officials report the actions follow a request from Libya’s new United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). ISIS has gained a stronghold in Libya over the past two years and has been engaged in heavy fighting with GNA forces around Sirte in recent weeks.

August 1: Venezuelan Electoral Officials Rule on Maduro Recall Vote, Caracas

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) is expected to rule on a bid for a referendum on forcing President Nicolas Maduro from power following the country’s ongoing economic collapse. The president’s opponents, led by the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, claim to have gathered the requisite 200,000 signatures to trigger the recall, but the CNE has delayed ruling on the validity of its attempts until now.

August 5-21: Brazil Hosts Olympic Games Amid Social Unrest, Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro will host hundreds of thousands of international visitors for the Olympic Games beginning on August 5. The event takes place amid a major political crisis in the country, which has drawn large street protests in recent days. Brazil has also been the epicenter of the global outbreak of the Zika virus and has been criticized for health risks to Olympic competitors posed by polluted waterways.

August 7: Thailand Votes on Adoption of New Constitution

A referendum set for August 7 will ask Thais whether or not they support a new national constitution proposed by the ruling military junta. Supporters of the constitution claim it will help stabilize the country and fight corruption, but opponents consider it an attempt by the military to consolidate power. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised to hold national elections sometime next year if the new constitution is adopted.

August 9: Leaders of Turkey and Russia Meet, St. Petersburg

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet in St. Petersburg on August 9, at a time of considerable disagreement between the two countries—including military clashes in Syria—and domestic disturbances such as Turkey’s recent coup. Increased Russian and Turkish cooperation is seen as one of the keys to progress on the Syrian peace process.

August 11: Zambia Holds General Elections and Constitutional Referendum

Zambia will hold general elections as well as a constitutional referendum on August 11. The election is expected to be one of the most tightly contested in the country’s history, but has been marred by accusations that the ruling Patriotic Front has attempted to manipulate the result in favor of President Edgar Lungu. The referendum focuses on adoption of a national bill of rights.

August 12: New Deadline for Expiration of UN Mission in South Sudan

The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until August 12, following continued violence in the country. UNMISS was due to expire at the end of July but the extension received unanimous Security Council support, with the relevant resolution also authorizing the mission to “use all necessary means to carry out its tasks.” The South Sudan government has also agreed to send a high-level delegation led by new Vice President Taban Deng Gai to UN headquarters in New York, to discuss the country’s stability.

August 20: New Philippines Leader Holds Peace Talks With Rebels, Oslo

Starting on August 20, Norway will host talks between recently elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and leaders of communist rebels based in the southern Mindanao region. Duterte withdraw a unilateral ceasefire with the rebels in late July, after they ambushed Philippines troops, killing one and leaving four others dead. All parties have reportedly committed to continue with the talks despite recent events.

August 27: Gabon Holds Presidential Elections

Gabon will go to the polls on August 27, with President Ali Bongo Ondimbo seeking a second term. About 20 contenders are competing against Bongo, including Jean Ping, a former aid of the president’s father Omar, who ruled Gabon for more than 40 years. The country’s constitutional court recently rejected opposition claims that Bongo was born in Nigeria and adopted, and thus ineligible to rule the country. The election campaign has focused on ending the country’s economic dependence on oil.

Late August: UN Invites Syrian Government to New Peace Talks, Geneva

United Nations Deputy Syrian Envoy Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy is reported to have invited the government of Bashar al-Assad to participate in talks aimed at ending the Syrian crisis. Set to take place in late August, the new discussions were announced after a July 26 meeting between the UN and American and Russian officials. The United States previously set August 1 as a deadline for a political transition away from Assad to begin, but heavy fighting continues in areas such as Aleppo and is preventing any progress.