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 1: New UN Secretary-General Takes Office, New York

Antonio Guterres begins his five-year term as Secretary-General of the United Nations, following two terms with Ban Ki-moon at the helm of the international body. Guterres was selected by the Security Council in October of 2016, having previously served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, and Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.

January 1: OPEC Agreement to Cut Oil Production Due to Start, Vienna

January will serve as a test of whether OPEC’s landmark deal to cut oil production by 1.8 million barrels a day will stick. The deal, aimed at controlling global oversupply and stabilizing oil prices, was announced late last year and includes both OPEC and non-OPEC countries such as Russia.  The effects of the deal could send shockwaves into the economy of Venezuela, which is already struggling with soaring food prices and social volatility.

January 1: Hearings in Impeachment Case of President Park Geun-hye, Seoul

South Korea’s Constitutional Court begins hearings this month in the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye. Ms. Park was impeached by the National Assembly last December on public corruption charges. The Court has until June to determine whether Park’s impeachment is justified.

January 4: Britain’s Ambassador to the European Union Resigns, Brussels

Sir Ivan Rogers, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, abruptly resigned on January 4 in the midst of negotiations over the UK’s departure from the European Union. In his resignation letter, Rogers accuses the UK government of being ill-prepared to transition out of the regional body. Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning the two-year EU exit process, by March of this year.

January 9: Russian Officials Visit Turkey to Discuss Planned Peace Talks, Turkey

To discuss the framework of Syria peace talks scheduled for February, Russian officials will meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on January 9. The two parties brokered a fragile ceasefire in Syria last December, but the Syrian opposition, backed by Turkey has accused government forces backed by Russia of violating the ceasefire. Peace talks overseen by UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura are scheduled for February 8 in Geneva.

January 10: Gambian Court Hears President Jammeh’s Challenge to Election Result

President Yahya Jammeh will present his case to the Supreme Court of Gambia on January 10, contesting the result of last December’s presidential election. Despite initially accepting his loss to challenger Adama Barrow, Jammeh later rejected the outcome, citing voter irregularities. Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) do not recognize Jammeh’s challenge as legitimate, and have placed standby forces on alert in case Jammeh attempts to remain in office after his term ends on January 19.

January 10: Colombian Government Holds Peace Talks with ELN Rebels, Quito

Postponed from their original start date in November due to the kidnapping of former congressman Odin Sanchez, peace talks between the Colombian Government and the National Liberation Army are due to commence on January 10. Tensions remain high between the two parties, following the rescue of eight minors from the ELN in the north of the country by the Colombian military less than two weeks before the scheduled talks. This comes on the heels of the government’s peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC), which passed its last hurdle when it was approved by Congress in November.

January 10: Open Debate of the Security Council on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace

On January 10, Sweden will preside over a ministerial-level Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace. Amid increased calls for a more cohesive conflict prevention strategy across the UN system, member states will discuss ways to prioritize continuous, cross-pillar approaches to preempt the outbreak of conflicts. The debate offers Secretary-General Antonio Guterres an opportunity to present his vision for cooperation between the Security Council and the Secretariat on sustaining peace.

January 9-12: Cyprus Peace Negotiations Begin, Geneva

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will meet in Geneva next week to present their roadmaps for peace. Greek and Turkish Cyprus have been in an ongoing territorial dispute since 1974, but negotiations between the two sides have emerged in recent months. The two leaders hope to reach a long-term, sustainable settlement during final negotiations on January 12.

January 15: Middle East Peace Conference, Paris

France will host a Conference on January 15 aiming to revitalize Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Seventy countries will be represented, and Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been invited to meet separately. A conference was originally scheduled to take place in 2016, but was postponed due to repeated rejections by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

January 17: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Davos

The World Economic Forum will hold its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on January 17. Participants from the G20 and the global business community will convene to discuss how to improve global governance through public-private cooperation and respond to the multiple humanitarian crises.

January 20: Inauguration of US President Trump, Washington, DC

US President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office on January 20. Mr. Trump has already made waves in the international community for his historic phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and for criticizing a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements. Once in office, President Trump’s policies could have a profound impact on international peace and security.

January 24: Hearing on Italy’s New Electoral Law, Rome

On January 24, Italy’s constitutional court holds a hearing on a new electoral law which regulates the election of the Chamber of Deputies. Critics argue that the law gives disproportionate power to the majority party. The law could determine the date of upcoming elections to replace departing Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who promised to resign if a 2016 referendum on electoral reforms failed to pass.

January 25-26: International Cybersecurity Forum, Lille

The allegations of election hacking in the United States by Russia are sure to be a topic of discussion among attendees at this year’s International Cybersecurity Forum in Lille, France. Participants from the intelligence, civil society, and the technology sectors will discuss cyber risk management and the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies.

January 22-31: African Union Leaders Summit, Addis Ababa

A new commission chairperson will be selected among five candidates at this year’s African Union Leaders Summit to succeed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa. Member states will also meet to consider Morocco’s bid for readmission to the regional organization. King Mohammed VI has been lobbying several AU members to support his readmission campaign, potentially ending Morocco’s pariah status since its departure from the AU in 1984 over its occupation of the Western Sahara.