Key Global Events to Watch in November

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

November 4: Iran Sanctions Re-imposed

Beginning November 4, the US will re-impose sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as a result of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal. Iran has worked with other allies and partners to find ways to uphold the terms of the deal and thereby maintain some of its trade and investment, while at the same time continuing to sell large amounts of oil. A new European Union mechanism to facilitate payments for Iranian exports should be legally in place by the time the sanctions hit, but will not be operational until early next year. On the part of China, the Bank of Kunlun, which handles China’s financial transactions with Iran, informed customers that on November 1 it will stop processing them. China’s largest oil refiners, Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), may also stop importing Iranian oil in November.

November 4: Independence Referendum, New Caledonia

New Caledonians are being called to the polls due to the terms laid out in the Noumea Accord—the 1998 roadmap for the territory’s institutional path which expires with this referendum—and are being asked whether they “want New Caledonia to assume full sovereignty and become independent.” The Accord, with its phased and irreversible transfer of power from Paris to Noumea, was reached between the anti-independence RPCR and the pro-independence FLNKS and provided for New Caledonia’s Congress to call for such a referendum vote at any time after 2014. As the vote on independence draws near—and all signs point to confirmation of the status quo—the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe told the National Assembly in Paris that he doesn’t “trust results proclaimed in advance.”

November 5-6: International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, Dakar

The fifth Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa is taking place November 5-6. The forum is occurring at a time of ongoing and worsening security challenges—in particular in Mali, Cameroon, and Nigeria—and also opportunities to solidify regional and continental cooperation on sustainable development and collective security. Last year’s forum was attended by over 20 ministers and heads of state of African and European countries and experts from across the globe.

November 6: United States Midterm Elections

General elections for members of the branches of the US Congress—the House of Representatives and Senate—along with other positions at the state level in various states, will be held on November 6. The election will decide whether the Democratic Party can gain control of Congress or if the Republican Party will maintain its majority in the legislative branch. Dozens of congressional races are considered competitive. In the Senate midterm elections, Democrats hope to win at least two new seats to regain control of the chamber, but their margin for error is slim as a majority of the seats up for election in 2018 are currently held by Democrats. The results of the elections will have a significant impact on whether President Donald Trump can achieve the remainder of his policy objectives during the rest of his term.

November 7: Presidential Election Madagascar

Madagascar will hold elections for president on November 7, after President Hery Rajaonarimampianina promised free elections in June, responding to a court order which sought to resolve a political crisis. There are 36 candidates on the ballot, including President Rajaonarimampianina and former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina, and Didier Ratsiraka. The country has struggled to recover from a political crisis in 2009, when dozens were killed in violent protests in Antananarivo, leading to plummets in foreign direct investment. Madagascar remains one of the poorest countries in the world despite natural resource reserves including nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium, and other minerals.

November 11: Ceremony Marking Centenary of End of World War I, France

On November 11, France will mark the 100-year anniversary of Veterans Day, which signaled the surrender of Germany and the end of World War I. Sixty heads of state and government—including US President Donald Trump—will attend the ceremony in Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the commemoration ceremony to not be “too military.” During meetings with Russia between US National security adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, President Putin proposed a meeting with Trump during the ceremonies in France. Mr. Putin recalled his meeting with Mr. Trump in Helsinki, describing it as a “useful, and at times fairly tough, meeting and conversation which ultimately turned out to be fruitful, in my opinion.”

November 11-15: 33rd ASEAN Summit, Singapore

The premier strategic forum for Southeast Asia is being held in Singapore from November 11-15 and will convene the 10 nations of ASEAN and some partners including China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, Russia, and the United States. The agenda and meetings were finalized during a recent meeting from October 15–16.

November 12-18: APEC Leaders’ Summit, Papua New Guinea

Almost coinciding with the ASEAN summit is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit being held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from November 12–18. The lead-up to the summit has been fraught, as the government of PNG has scrambled to prepare buildings, accommodation, and infrastructure. The Australian government has committed to help cover some of the costs of the summit. At the same time, the PNG government has touted APEC as a chance for the country to showcase itself as a tourism destination and place for international investment.

November 30-December 1: G20 Summit, Argentina

The Group of 20 (G20) summit is being held from November 30 to December 1, focusing on  policy responses to new technology and the impact of technological change on various sectors. The G20 is also an opportunity for many leaders to discuss issues of concern. US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet the day before the summit, as the two countries remain far apart on trade and China’s alleged theft of American technology. President Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India are also planning to meet on the sidelines of the summit, according to China’s ambassador to India.

TBD: Astana Talks on Syria

The next round of Astana talks on Syria is expected to take place in late November at the earliest, according to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. The Astana peace process was launched by Russia, Iran, and Turkey in the Kazakh capital of Astana in January 2017 to bring all warring parties in the Syrian conflict to the table to find a political solution as a complementary part of the UN sponsored peace talks in Geneva. At the same time, the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura announced he will step down at the end of November after more than four years in the key post. Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen was named as the new envoy.

TBD: Repatriation of Rohingya in Bangladesh

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin by mid-November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar army crackdown, though doubts about a speedy return are likely to persist. More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh after Rohingya insurgent attacks on the Myanmar security forces triggered a sweeping military response. “We are looking forward to start the repatriation by mid-November,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque after a meeting with a Myanmar delegation led by senior foreign ministry official Myint Thu.

TBD: Former al-Shabaab Commander Running in Regional Election, Somalia

The election for the presidency of South-West state in Somalia will take place in November. Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabaab commander, said he will contest the presidency following requests from citizens in the area. Robow has expressed his willingness, if he wins, to forge a strong relationship with the federal government, which has been feuding with some state administrations. A founder of al-Shabaab, he is the highest ranking militant to defect from the group. In 2000, he trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but later quit al-Shabaab because of what he called ideological differences. He then led his own militant group which fought against al-Shabaab.