Key Global Events to Watch in April

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

April: 3 Philippines Peace Talks with Communist Rebels, Oslo

Norway is hosting peace talks between the Philippines government and communist rebels of the New People’s Army—the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte restarted the talks after taking office in June 2016. The government is seeking a permanent ceasefire to the conflict that began in 1968, though progress from previous meetings—including one held in Italy in January this year—has been slow.

April 3: Egypt’s President Sisi Visits White House, Washington, DC

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was due to meet with United States President Donald Trump today—the first visit Sisi has made to the White House since coming to power in 2013. US officials claim Trump wants to “reboot” the bilateral relationship, after it suffered in the wake of Sisi’s military-led takeover and subsequent hardline rule. Sisi is expected to present Trump with a framework for renewed peace talks between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority.

April 3: Organization of American States Special Meeting on Venezuela, Washington, DC

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States is due to meet in Washington, DC, today to discuss the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela. The meeting followed the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s moves to take over the country’s opposition-controlled legislature. Though the court subsequently reversed its decision following widespread domestic and international protest, it has not backed away from granting President Nicolas Maduro extensive new powers over the country’s oil wealth.

April 4-5: International Conference on Future of Syria, Brussels

Delegations from 70 states, international organizations, and civil society groups will attend the Brussels Conference on the future of Syria and its region from April 4- 5. The event will be hosted by the European Union and co-chaired with the United Nations and the governments of Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. It will seek to address the impact of the Middle Eastern country’s crisis, including where the international community stands on meeting commitments made at an earlier London-hosted conference, in February 2016.

April 5-7: World Economic Forum on Latin America, Buenos Aires

Argentina will host the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Latin America from April 5-7, at a time of economic and political instability for many countries in the region. Global and regional leaders from business, government, and civil society will discuss Latin America’s challenges—including the commodity downturn of the past few years—and possible responses to what WEF calls the “fourth Industrial Revolution,” including progress toward widespread sustainable energy development and the creation of digital economies.

April 6: Parliamentary Elections in The Gambia

Parliamentary elections in The Gambia will be held on April 6, just a few months after a regional intervention ensured a peaceful handover of power from former President Yahya Jammeh to current leader Adama Barrow. Gambian authorities have invited European Union officials to monitor the election, and EU foreign affairs leader Federica Mogherini called it a “new opportunity for the citizens of The Gambia to express their political will.”

April 6-7: Chinese President Xi Meets US President Trump, Palm Beach

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet United States President Donald Trump at the latter’s Mar-a-Lago resort on April 6-7. The first meeting between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies follows a US presidential campaign in which Trump promised to crack down on allegedly unfair Chinese trade practices and reset political and military relations in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing is reportedly seeking the Trump administration’s acceptance of a “new model of great power relations,” while White House officials appear split on whether to strike a more conciliatory or aggressive note.

April 9: Basque Separatists ETA Reportedly Set to Disarm

The Basque separatist group ETA is reportedly set to officially hand in its weapons on April 9, to end its long campaign for a new state in a region spanning France and Spain. A spokesperson for the group told journalists in March that members of ETA had unilaterally decided on disarmament and it would be carried out regardless of whether or not national authorities agreed to accept their weapons. The French and Spanish governments have both expressed degrees of skepticism over the offer, following previous ETA failures to end their activities.

April 9: Presidential Elections, Possible Referendum on Future of South Ossetia

Elections are scheduled for the de facto president of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia on April 9. In March this year, the South Ossetian parliamentary speaker said an agreement had been struck with the current de facto president, Leonid Tibilov, that the polls would be followed by a referendum on the region’s absorption into the Russian Federation through unification with the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. Earlier reports had suggested the vote might even coincide with the presidential polls.

April 12: White House to Host Head of NATO, Washington, DC

United States President Donald Trump is expected to host NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on April 12, ahead of Trump attending the NATO Summit in Brussels in May. The April meeting has been billed as set to discuss “how to strengthen the alliance to cope with challenges to national and international security.” It comes as Trump and other US officials question NATO members’ funding commitments to the alliance’s mutual defense.

April 16: Turkey Holds Referendum on New Political System

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has organized a referendum for April 16 on proposed constitutional changes that would install an executive presidential system. If passed, the changes would eliminate the position of prime minister, make the president the head of both state and government, and remove some of the powers of Turkey’s parliament. Erdoğan contends the new system would allow a more well-functioning government, while critics contend it is a power grab that would move the country further toward authoritarianism.

April 21-23: IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings, Washington, DC

Thousands of representatives of government, civil society, academia, the media, and the private sector are expected to attend the annual Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. Topics of discussion will include the global economic outlook, efforts to eradicate poverty and enhance economic development, and assessments of the effectiveness of international aid programs.

April 23: First Round of French Presidential Elections

The first round of the French presidential election is scheduled for April 23, with a runoff vote between the top two candidates set for May 7 should no one emerge with a sufficient majority. Five candidates remain in the running, with National Front leader Marine Le Pen and independent Emmanuel Macron expected to be dominate voting. The result will have a significant bearing on international politics, with Le Pen promoting a popular revolt against the European Union and the forces of globalization more broadly.

April 29: European Union Summit on Guidelines for Brexit, Brussels

European Council President Donald Tusk has called a summit of the European Union’s leaders for April 29 to adopt guidelines on negotiating the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc. The summit, which the UK will not attend, follows Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty on March 29, and thus beginning a two-year period of negotiations. Tusk said European leaders must “do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU.”