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 1: Possible Selection of New Prime Minister in Armenia 

After nearly two weeks of public protests forced Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan to resign, Armenia could have a new prime minister as early as next week. The country’s parliament is set to hold a special debate today and possibly elect a new leader. So far, opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan is the favorite to replace Sargsyan, as the party ruling party announced they would not stop him from becoming prime minister and would not be putting forward their own candidate. Protests have continued in the capital, with about 5,000 people gathering in a square in the center of Yerevan on Sunday before setting off on a march.

MAY 6: Lebanon Votes for New Parliament

For the first time in nine years, Lebanon will vote in a general election on May 6 under new rules, expected to bring some changes to parliament but preserve a unity government combining its main political blocs. A smooth election and the swift formation of a new government are not only important for Lebanon’s political stability but also to bolster a weak economy that is in dire need of reforms and investment. The new voting system has generated uncertainty in some districts, but Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, looks likely to form another unity government that includes Iran-backed Shi’ite movement Hezbollah.

MAY 12: Decision on the Iran Nuclear Deal

The United States will decide whether to recertify or withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—also known as the Iran nuclear deal—on May 12. During a recent state visit, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for talks on the deal, though at the end of his three days he expected the US to withdraw. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference on April 30 in which he presented what he called evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program. Experts have noted the information he presented was already available to the IAEA prior to the signing of the JCPOA and formed the basis of the deal.

MAY 12: Parliamentary Election in Iraq

May 12 marks Iraq’s fourth parliamentary elections since the 2003 US-led invasion that removed Saddam Hussein from power. In the aftermath of a destructive three-year war to defeat the Islamic State group, Iraqi politicians are promising citizens a better future, employing social media, online videos and traditional billboards. Divisions are growing in the country ahead of the elections, with Iranian influence set to grow as Sunnis fend for themselves in areas devastated by the war against the Islamic State. Nearly 7,000 candidates are vying for 329 seats in parliament.

MAY 14: Opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem

The ceremony marking the opening of the new embassy of the United States to Israel in Jerusalem will be held on May 14. President Donald Trump said he may attend the ceremony for the embassy, the moving of which was one of the key promises he made before becoming president. The opening is to take place a day before the current Palestinian protests, at the fence between Israel and Gaza, are expected to reach their peak.

MAY 14-16: UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament

In a follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, another such meeting will be taking place between May 14 and 16 to review the progress made in this regard. The meeting comes at a propitious time for disarmament on the Korean Peninsula, but also increased tension over the nuclear program of Iran. The second part of the Conference on Disarmament, held in Geneva, will also begin on May 14 and will continue through June 29.

MAY 20: Presidential Election in Venezuela

Venezuelans will vote for their president on May 20, as incumbent Nicolas Maduro looks to retain power for another six year term. Maduro’s main challenger, Henri Falcon, is desperately trying to create a buzz on the street. Yet with a formidable state apparatus against him, a boycott by former opposition allies, and widespread suspicions the ruling Socialists may rig the vote, numbers are low at Falcon rallies and he faces a daunting task to upset the incumbent. Venezuela is in the throes of a devastating state collapse and citizens are fleeing the country in large numbers. Some are hoping for a rebound in the Venezuelan economy as oil prices rise and a new government seems possible, but others see little reason for optimism.

MAY 21-22: 6th Biennial High-Level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum

The 2018 Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) will take place in New York from May 21-22. This year’s forum will focus on the role of development cooperation in achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The outcomes and recommendations of the forum are meant to inform other UN-led intergovernmental processes, including the Addis Ababa Agenda on financing for development.

MAY 21-26: World Health Assembly in Geneva

The 71st World Health Assembly—the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision-making body—will convene in Geneva from May 21-26. The meeting determines the finances, policies, and programs of the WHO. Diplomatic allies of Taiwan have pushed for it to be allowed to join the organization, although it is widely expected that they will miss their bid. A failed bid would still give Taiwan the opportunity to draw attention to the billion dollars’ worth of medical charity they carry out—an argument Taipei uses to push its bid.

MAY 27: Election in Colombia

Elections for president of Colombia are set to take place on May 27. Center-left candidate Humberto De La Calle represented the government as chief negotiator in talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After the signing the agreement in late 2016, De La Calle says peace could be threatened by problems in implementing the accord and by promises by right-wing candidate Ivan Duque to make changes to the agreement. Duque has emerged as a front-runner after receiving the blessing of ex-President Álvaro Uribe. Gustavo Petro, a former Marxist rebel, has vowed to “transform the country.”

MAY TBD: Trump, Kim Jong-un Meeting

Following the meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, there is growing anticipation for a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks. The US president has said that he is considering five locations for the summit, although he has also said multiple times that the talks may not happen. In last week’s meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, they pledged to end hostilities and work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, seeming to increase the likelihood of the Trump-Kim summit.