Key Global Events to Watch in May

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

May 2: Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Meeting on Venezuela, Caracas

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will hold an emergency session on May 2 on the crisis in Venezuela. The meeting was requested by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, citing threats against the country’s “independence, sovereignty, and its right to self-determination.” CELAC was created by Venezuela’s former President Hugo Chavez, partly as an alternative to the Organization of American States, which Venezuela intends to depart after the bloc criticized its anti-democratic turn.

May 2: German Chancellor Merkel and Russian President Putin Meet, Sochi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort city of Sochi on May 2. Talks are expected to focus on the ongoing Ukraine conflict, the war in Syria, and preparations for the G20 summit to be held in Hamburg, Germany, in July this year. The two leaders have long had a strained relationship and any significant breakthrough on these or issues such as Russian involvement in Western elections is viewed as unlikely.

May 3: US President Trump Meets Palestinian Authority President Abbas, Washington DC

United States President Donald Trump will welcome Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on May 3. Abbas is expected to push Trump for a revival of talks on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine crisis—an issue on which the US leader has vacillated since taking office. Some analysts predict Trump might also push Abbas for difficult concessions, including ending payments to the families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel on terrorism charges.

May 3-4: Russian-led Syrian Peace Talks Resume, Astana

The Russian-led peace talks on the Syrian crisis will resume in the capital of Kazhakstan on May 3. Russian media has reported that members of the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad will take part in the latest negotiations, which are also brokered by Turkey and Iran and take place in parallel to United Nations-led discussions in Geneva. Moscow has reportedly made guarantees to the opposition relating to ceasefires, delivery of humanitarian aid, and implementation of UN Security Council resolutions.

May 7: Second Round of French Presidential Election

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front will compete in the second round of the French presidential election, after emerging as the top two contenders in the first round on April 23. Macron is expected to emerge victorious, with the latest public polling indicating he enjoys a 20% lead ahead of voting. A legislative election to select members of the National Assembly will follow the presidential poll, on June 11 and 18.

May 9: South Korean Presidential Elections

South Koreans go to the polls on May 9 to elect a replacement for Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in December 2016 and formally forced from office in March this year. Latest reports reveal that Moon Jae Inn of the Democratic Party enjoys a widening lead over his nearest rival, Ahn Cheol Soo of the People’s Party. North Korea’s escalating nuclear weapons ambitions and the subsequent deployment of a United States-provided anti-missile platform have become major election issues.

May 10: Colombian Government and ELN Rebels Hold Peace Talks, Havana

The Colombian government and ELN rebels are expected to meet on May 10 for peace talks in Havana, Cuba. The two parties began talks on February 7 this year, a few months after the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with FARC rebels. Representatives from FARC are expected to travel to Havana to meet with ELN members and discuss ongoing efforts to put a permanent end to Colombia’s 50-plus years of insurgent violence.

May 11: International Conference on Somalia, London

The London Conference on Somalia will aim to attract high-level international support for Somalia to aid its continued transition. United Nations special representative Michael Keating said the event would be crucial for accelerating necessary reforms. The aim is to cement a high-level partnership between the Somali government and its international partners covering such things as a security pact, support for drought response, and economic recovery initiatives.

May 19: Iranian Presidential Elections

Iran will hold presidential elections on May 19, with incumbent Hassan Rouhani seeking another term alongside five other contenders. The country’s Guardian Council disqualified the vast majority of the 1,636 individuals who registered for the elections, including former hardline leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two main rivals for Rouhani are expected to be Ebrahim Raisi, a law professor and conservative cleric, and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran and considered more of a pragmatist.

May 22-31 May: 70th World Health Assembly, Geneva

The World Health Organization will host the 70th World Health Assembly in Switzerland from May 22-31, where a replacement for departing Director-General Margaret Chan will be selected. The organization has faced considerable criticism for its record on pandemic response in recent years and the new leader is expected to face demands for significant reforms. The Assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body and brings together delegations from all member states to discuss an agenda prepared by the Executive Board.

May 25: Meeting of NATO Leaders, Brussels

Heads of state and government of the NATO alliance members will meet in Brussels on May 25, coinciding with the opening of new organization headquarters. The meeting will be the first attended by United States President Donald Trump, who has questioned the enduring value of the alliance and criticized the lack of commitment of members to their individual and collective security. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that the meeting would be “an important opportunity for NATO leaders to decide how we can further strengthen our efforts, including in the fight against terrorism.”

May 26-27: 43rd G7 Summit, Taormina

Italy will host the 43rd Summit of the Group of Seven (G7) major advanced economies in the Sicilian city of Taormina from May 26-27, under the theme “Building the Foundations of Renewed Trust.” United States President Donald Trump will attend as part of his first overseas trip since coming to power. Agenda items include the management of human mobility, inclusive growth, and the future of work and welfare systems. A G7 foreign ministers meeting in April was targeted by protestors and failed to forge a unified position on the Syrian crisis.

May 27: Suggested Deadline for Yemen Peace Talks

The United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, has suggested that renewed peace talks on the country’s ongoing conflict could begin before the start of Ramadan on May 27. Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmad Obaid Bin Daghar has also said that his government is committed to signing an agreement with the country’s Houthi rebels. Bin Daghar issued a statement calling for a peace through “executing the remaining terms of GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] peace initiative, the outcomes of National Dialogue and the UN Security Council resolution 2216.”

Late May: US President Trump to Decide on Paris Climate Agreement, Washington DC

United States President Donald Trump is reportedly set to decide by the end of May whether the US will withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement signed in November 2015. Trump had earlier promised to scrap his country’s involvement in the agreement but is thought to face dissenting opinions within the White House. US commitment under former President Barack Obama was crucial to the agreement being struck and withdrawal could inspire other countries to abandon their commitments.