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 9: Proposed Talks Between North and South Korea

After further escalations in rhetoric between the North Korean government and the United States, South Korea has proposed high-level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang on January 9. The talks would discuss the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and other measures to improve inter-Korean ties. The offer came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended an olive branch to South Korea, expressing interest in sending North Korea’s delegation to the Winter Olympics.

JANUARY 12: First Round of Presidential Election in Czech Republic

The first round of elections for the presidency of the Czech Republic will be held on January 12. Polls have shown a lead for the current president, Miloš Zeman, though a runoff will likely be necessary. President Zeman’s opponents have sought to challenge his anti-immigrant, pro-Russian rhetoric in recent years.

JANUARY 15: 29th Session of Universal Periodic Review Working Group

The 29th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group of the Human Rights Council in Geneva will be held from January 15-26. The countries whose human rights situation are under review are France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, and Serbia. UPR sessions are held three times per year with 16 countries being reviewed during each two-week session.

JANUARY 17: Parliament in Catalonia Set to Resume

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that he intends to convene Catalonia’s new parliament on January 17. Prime Minister Rajoy set the date after a regional parliamentary election in December resulted in the separatist parties winning the most seats, increasing the chances that they could lead the next Catalan government. The election was called by Prime Minister Rajoy after he used his constitutional powers to dissolve the previous parliament after it voted to declare Catalonia an independent republic.

JANUARY 22: Swearing in of Liberia’s New President

Liberia’s election board certified international football star George Weah as the winner of the nation’s presidential election. He defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai in a runoff by gaining 61.5 percent of the vote. Weah will be sworn in on January 22, taking over from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was elected president in 2006 after the country’s second civil war ended.

JANUARY 23: World Economic Forum Meeting

The 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum will take place in Davos, Switzerland from January 23-26. The meeting brings together leaders with the aim of setting an agenda to improve the world. There will be over 2,500 leaders from business, government, international organizations, civil society, academia, media, and the arts present at the meeting.

JANUARY 28: Presidential Election in Cyprus

Nine candidates, including the incumbent president Nicos Anastasiades, are contending for the presidency of Cyprus in an election to be held on January 28. President Anastasiades has proclaimed a vision for a “fully European country” that is free and independent. Other contenders who may force a runoff include Nikolas Papadopoulos, son of the former president Tassos Papadopoulos who has hardline views on reunification, and Stavros Malas, an independent supported by the communist party Akel.

JANUARY 28: Presidential Election in Finland

Finland will go to the polls on January 28 to elect a new president for a six-year term. The role of the president in Finland has diminished since the time of Urho Kekkonen who served from 1956 to 1982 and is primarily focused on diplomacy and defense. A still-remaining integral part of the president’s job is managing the relationship with Finland’s eastern neighbor, Russia. The incumbent, Sauli Niinistö, has made effort to build relationships with Moscow and the US, and his success in diplomacy has resonated with voters as he holds a commanding lead in polls.

JANUARY 29: 56th Session of the Commission for Social Development

The UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD) will be holding its 56th session beginning on January 29. The priority theme for the 2018 session is the development of strategies for eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development for all people. The session will also review relevant UN plans and programs pertaining to the situation of social groups including the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, the World Programme of Action for Youth, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, and family issues, policies, and programs.

JANUARY 29: Syrian Peace Talks in Sochi

Russia, Turkey, and Iran have agreed to hold in a peace conference for Syria in Sochi, Russia beginning on January 29. The session, called the “Congress of National Dialogue,” comes as the UN has urged the countries to support the Geneva peace process. The three countries announced in a statement that the congress will include participants from all segments of Syrian society. Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy on Syria, said that Russia’s plan to convene this congress should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-led Geneva talks on ending the war in Syria.

JANUARY 30: Renewal of Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

The Security Council is set to adopt a resolution on January 30 that would extend the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The report of the UN Secretary-General on UNFICYP is expected to be submitted by January 10 which, together with a strategic review of from December, will be the subject of consultations regarding changes relating primarily to the number of troops. Secretary-General Guterres has proposed that the number of military forces be reduced to 802.