Key Global Events to Watch in December

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

DECEMBER 2-14: UN Climate Change Conference, Poland

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) will take place from December 2-4 in Katowice, Poland. Countries that have ratified the convention will meet to decide how to ensure the implementation of its provisions. The Conference, also known as COP24, will be chaired by the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, and attended by world leaders including UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The discussion of climate change comes shortly after the publication of a new UN Environment report reviewing global emissions and an urgent call to close the “emissions gap.” The Polish President aims to adopt a decision that will uphold the Paris Agreement, intensifying each country’s climate protection efforts.

DECEMBER 3: Eurogroup meeting, Brussels

Coordinating economic policies across Europe will be a main task of the Eurogroup during its December 3 meeting in Brussels. The group, an informal body in which the ministers from “euro area” member states discuss their countries’ common responsibilities related to the euro, is also responsible for preparing the Euro Summit. Regular topics of discussion include budgetary policies, structural reforms, financial stability, and euro area enlargement. With meetings every month, its work program is newly adopted every six months under a president, currently Mário Centeno, Portuguese Minister of Finance, who will serve a term of two and a half years. A full agenda of this month’s discussion points will be updated two days ahead of the meeting and it will be live streamed here.

DECEMBER 4-5: NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers Meetings, Brussels

From Tuesday December 4 to Wednesday December 5, Foreign Ministers of the North Atlantic Council will meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The meeting will be chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The statement of the Foreign Ministers’ April 27 Meeting reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to the development of the Afghan security and defense forces, as well as it urged the Taliban to participate in an “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led” peace process. The official program of the December meeting will be released closer to the date of the meeting. Of likely concern will be the recent naval standoff between Russia and Ukraine.

DECEMBER 6: OPEC Meeting, Vienna

Those who have closely followed trends in the oil market expect a production cut to be made during the December 6 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna. This cut is predicted to stabilize the oil market which are currently “oversupplied,” according to an interview with Johannes Benigni of the JBC Energy Group. On November 21, US President Donald Trump encouraged OPEC to reject output cuts and pushed for lower prices on Twitter. In the context of tensions between the US and China, the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires (November 30-1) will likely shape the conversation on the oil market’s instability and is expected to influence outcomes of the December 6 OPEC meeting.

DECEMBER 5-7: Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will convene from December 5-7 in Vienna for its sixty-first session. This meeting comes shortly after the release of a study on gender-related killing of women and girls, which determined that home is “the most dangerous place for women,” with majority of female homicide victims worldwide killed by partners or family. The report emphasized the need for crime prevention and criminal justice response to violence against women. It also called for coordination between police and the justice system, and health and social services, and it underlined the importance of involving men in the solution. At the December meeting, agenda items include improving the gender balance and geographical representation of UNODC staff, along with the implementation of international drug control treaties and how the Commission can contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

DECEMBER 9: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, Saudi Arabia

The GCC summit is scheduled to take place on December 9 in Riyadh, bringing together the six states in the GCC: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar. The Emir of Qatar, Tamim Al Thani, received an invitation to the summit in a letter from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, their first correspondence since the blockade of Qatar began in June 2017. The invitation follows the decision of Qatar’s to withdraw from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a move seen by some analysts as deeply symbolic given Qatar’s modest oil output. Kuwait, which has been mediating between Qatar and the GCC, announced last month that all six member states were expected to attend the Riyadh summit.

DECEMBER 9: Parliamentary Election, Armenia

Nikol Pashinyan, acting Prime Minister of Armenia, announced his resignation in October, and the parliament failed to replace him within two weeks. Armenia’s parliament was dissolved after a second failed attempt to elect a prime minister as a result. The country’s Central Electoral Commission recently announced the schedule for a December snap election to take place on December 9. Eleven “forces” are running for Parliament, and Pashinyan, a former opposition leader who became prime minister in May after protests against corruption and cronyism of the Republican Party, heads the “My Step Part” with 183 candidates. The party won 80 percent of the mayoral vote in the capital Yerevan in September and is expected to win again in December.

DECEMBER 10: Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremonies, Oslo and Stockholm

Following the October 5 announcement of Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad as Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, the award ceremony will take place on December 10 in Oslo. Mukwege and Murad will receive their Prize from the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of King Harald V of Norway. They will also deliver lectures during the Award Ceremony. The Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature, and the Prize in Economic Sciences are awarded in Stockholm with a Nobel Medal and Diploma from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

DECEMBER 10-11: Global Compact on Migration Approval, Marrakech

The Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration will be held in Marrakech, Morocco on December 10-11. The first ever agreement on a common approach to international migration was approved by 192 countries in July (the United States, notably, boycotted the agreement). In this conference, member states will confirm their political commitment to the compact. The UN envoy for international migration, Louise Arbour, has expressed disappointment over countries like Hungary, Austria, Israel, Poland, Switzerland, and Australia dropping their support for the compact in recent months and deciding not to attend the conference. Reservations have also been expressed by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

DECEMBER 13-14: European Council Summit, Brussels

The European Council will convene with EU leaders present from December 13-14. At hand will be budgetary issues in the long-term, but also migration and the fighting of disinformation. Council President Donald Tusk will chair the meeting that will also see an extension of the bloc’s economic sanctions against Russia’s defense, energy and banking sectors. The renewal of sanctions is largely due to Russia’s military actions against Ukraine’s navy in the Sea of Azov. The sanctions were first introduced after Russia annexed Crimea. Tusk told a news conference at the G20 that “Europe is united in its support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is why I am sure that the EU will roll over the sanctions against Russia in December.”

DECEMBER 19: Presidential Second Round, Madagascar 

December 19 will be the tie breaker to determine which former head of state will become Madagascar’s next president. In the initial election, where 36 candidates ran and turnout was 54.23 percent, Andry Rajoelina, president of the transitional period of 2009 to 2014, won 39 percent of the vote and Marc Ravalomanana, president from 2002 to 2009, received 35 percent of the vote. But a candidate must win by over 50 percent to become president. Meanwhile, outgoing President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who had the support of 8.8 percent was one of the minority candidates who challenged the results at the High Constitutional Court, saying that the November 7 ballot should be cancelled due to voting irregularities.

DECEMBER 20: Legislative Elections and Constitutional Referendum, Togo

In September, Togo’s national election commission chief Kodjona Kadanga announced that local elections and a referendum on constitutional reform in the country will be held on December 16 and 20. While the reforms were not specified, they will presumably address the country’s ongoing political crisis ignited by the 2017 rally against the administration of President Faure Gnassingbe. Protestors demanded reforms in the form of a two-term limit for presidents, a two-round voting system, and in allowing the diaspora to cast ballots in elections.

DECEMBER 23: Presidential Elections, DRC

November’s delayed elections have become December’s awaited presidential decision. Sitting President Joseph Kabila has overstayed his constitutional term limit for almost two years—it expired on December 20, 2016—and now he is constitutionally barred from participating in the election. Kabila’s party supports candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, former Interior Minister, who faces seven opposition leaders. Direct voting will take place on December 23 for presidential, legislative, regional, and local elections, under a deal where President Kabila will finally leave office. The African Union Peace and Security Council has urged the EU to lift sanctions on Kabila’s successor, saying that doing so will lead to “free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.”

DECEMBER 30: General Election, Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s 11th general election will be held on December 30. Current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is running for re-election, and has won support for her crackdown on terrorism and the acceptance of one million Rohingya refugees into the country. However, former prime minister Mouded Ahmed said that the current administration faced charges of corruption and that people are ready for a change. Voters await the decision to determine the future political stability of the country and the refugee population that it houses.

DECEMBER TBD: Yemen Peace Talks

Peace talks to end the conflict in Yemen are scheduled to take place in Sweden early in the month of December, though some have cautioned that there’s no guarantee Saudi Arabia will take the steps needed for the talks to happen. The conflict of nearly four years between a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels backed by Iran has killed around 57,000 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a crisis mapping project. The UN has put the death toll at 10,000, but that estimate has not been updated for years. Yemen is on the brink of starvation, with 14 million lives at risk in what the UN describes as possibly the worst famine in 100 years.