Key Global Events to Watch in October

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

OCTOBER 2: UN General Assembly Third Committee Session Begins

The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee begins on October 2, running until November 21. The committee will hear and interact with special rapporteurs, independent experts, and chairs of working groups as mandated by the Human Rights Council. At last year’s session, the committee considered over 60 draft resolutions, more than half of which were submitted under the human rights agenda—including country-specific resolutions.

OCTOBER 2: International Day of Non-Violence

The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. In his message for the day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “at a time of protracted conflicts and complex challenges, Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence remains an inspiration.” In a visit to India to mark the occasion, Mr. Guterres recalled Gandhi’s commitment to social justice. This year also marked the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela, whose example along with Mahatma Gandhi’s has inspired commitments to global peace and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

OCTOBER 5: Announcement of Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Oslo

This year, 331 nominations were made for the Nobel Peace Prize—216 individuals and 115 organizations—the second-highest number on record. The winner will be announced on Friday, October 5 in Oslo. Last year’s winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

OCTOBER 7: Presidential Election, Cameroon

Cameroon will hold its election for president on October 7. President Paul Biya is running for his seventh term after his predecessor retired in 1982. Of the living heads of state in Africa, only Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled uninterrupted for longer. Biya scrapped term limits from the constitution in 2008, allowing him to run again and prompting riots in which more than 40 people were killed. President Biya is expected to easily extend his 36-year rule, but the ongoing Anglophone crisis has emerged as his government’s most serious challenge in years.

OCTOBER 7: Presidential Election, Brazil

On October 7, more than 147 million eligible Brazilians will vote in the first round of state and federal elections. In the likely event of a second round, the next vote is set for October 28. The two frontrunners are Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right, evangelical politician and member of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), and Fernando Haddad, the former mayor of São Paulo and a member of the center-left Workers’ Party (PT). Mr. Bolsonaro has won a loyal following among swaths of society with his promise to get tough on crime in Brazil. Haddad is the PT’s replacement for popular former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, and is forecast to win 22 percent of the vote. The deeply polarized election climate means that despite leading the polls, Bolsonaro and Haddad are also widely disapproved of, with rejection rates of 46 and 32 percent respectively. Bolsonaro was also the target of assassination attempt when he was stabbed during a campaign rally on September 6.

OCTOBER 8-14: Annual General Meetings of IMF and World Bank, Indonesia

The annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group will be held in Bali, Indonesia from October 8-14. The meetings, while bringing together the boards of governors of both the IMF and World Bank, also serve as a space for dialogue between the private sector, government officials, and senior officials of the two institutions. In a speech ahead of the meetings, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagard said that global economic growth growth was at its highest level since 2011 but has plateaued, with fewer countries participating in the expansion. She said that trade disputes and tariffs are starting to dim the outlook, calling on countries to resolve their differences and overhaul global trading rules.

OCTOBER 18-19: EU Summit, Brussels

As the deadline for a Brexit withdrawal agreement draws ever closer, EU leaders are set to meet again on October 18-19 in Brussels, a meeting the President of the European Council Donald Tusk referred to as the “moment of truth.” Speaking during a recent meeting of European leaders in Austria, Tusk said he was “a little more optimistic” on the chances of getting a Brexit deal and pushed for “maximum progress and results in October.” A possible extraordinary November summit could then be used to “finalize and formalize a deal” he said. At the same time, during a meeting of Conservative Party faithful former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson stopped just short of an outright leadership bid to replace Prime Minister Theresa May but tore into her Brexit blueprint. He referred to her so-called Chequers plan to leave the European Union as a “cheat” and called on the party to return to its traditional values, including tax cuts and stricter law and order.

OCTOBER 20: Parliamentary Elections, Afghanistan

Voters in Afghanistan are due to go to the polls to elect a new Afghan parliament on October 20. Sources have claimed that Taliban and Afghan government representatives have met in Saudi Arabia to discuss security ahead of the election, though a Taliban spokesman denied the claim. The process has been hampered by fears of attacks on polling stations and campaign rallies. Ensuring the vote passes off smoothly and without violence has been a top priority for the Afghan government and its international partners. The elections come at a time of increased violence in the country and the expectation among officials that it will intensify in the weeks leading up to October 20.

OCTOBER 25: Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security, New York

The annual UN Security Council debate on women, peace, and security (WPS) is scheduled for October 25 in New York. Bolivia, as president of the Security Council in October, is expected to focus the debate on the empowerment of women in peace processes. Secretary-General Guterres will also brief the Council and provide his report on the issue. Though there is no formal outcome expected from the open debate, there are calls to continue building on the positive momentum of the Council’s implementation of the WPS agenda. For example, the Council’s increased engagement with civil society under the leadership of its non-permanent members has led to 10 women being invited to brief on country-specific situations so far in 2018.

OCTOBER TBD: Prime Minister of FYROM to Push Forward with Name Change

Despite the failure of a referendum, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will press ahead with plans to change the country’s name, paving the way for NATO membership. The referendum failed due to the minimum turnout required for validation not being met. The name change follows a deal with Greece to resolve a decades-old dispute over the country’s name, which had prevented Macedonia from joining NATO or the European Union.

OCTOBER TBD: US Secretary of State to Visit North Korea

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accepted an invitation to visit Pyongyang this month, after meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in New York last week. Pompeo’s trip, announced by the State Department, will be used to prepare for an upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as to “make further progress on the implementation of the commitments from the US-DPRK Singapore summit” held in June.

Developing: Rocky Relationship Between China and US Continues

Amid rising tensions fueled by a trade dispute, China cancelled an important annual security meeting between Beijing and Washington scheduled for mid-October, saying a senior Chinese military officer would not be available to meet with US Defense Secretary James Mattis. The decision is widely viewed as the latest step in tit-for-tat actions in the now-chilly relationship between the countries. China also expressed anger on Tuesday after a US Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea, saying it resolutely opposed an operation that it called a threat to its sovereignty. American officials said the Chinese destroyer came within yards of the US Navy ship, compelling it to switch direction in what they referred so as an “unsafe and unprofessional” clash.