Key Global Events to Watch in March

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

MARCH 4: Juan Guaidó to Return to Venezuela

Despite threats to his life, Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó has vowed to return to his country no later than Monday, March 4. During a recent visit to Brazil where he met with President Jair Bolsonaro, Guaidó admitted that he faces threats, possibly including being arrested upon his return. Guaidó is the head of Venezuela’s legislature and has won recognition as the country’s rightful leader from more than 50 nations, including the United States.

MARCH 4–29: 125th Session of the UN Human Rights Committee, Geneva

The United Nations Human Rights Committee—the body of independent experts who monitor the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)—will meet for their 125th session from March 4–22. The countries whose implementation will be reviewed are Angola, Estonia, Niger, Viet Nam, Dominica, Eritrea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Senegal, Finland, Lesotho, and the United States. The Committee holds three sessions per year and each state usually reports to the body once every four years.

MARCH 8: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is on March 8 and will launch a year-long campaign to promote a gender-balanced world. As in previous years, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women while also marking a global call to action. The hashtag for the campaign is #BalanceforBetter.

MARCH 11–22: Commission on the Status of Women, New York

The annual Commission on the Status of Women will hold its sixty-third session in New York from March 11–22. The priority theme this year is social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The session follows the preparatory expert group meeting held in September 2018.

MARCH 15: Kenya and Uganda to Resolve Migingo Island Dispute

During a ministerial meeting held this week between Kenya and Uganda, a bilateral agreement was struck to resolve the dispute over Migingo Island, among other issues, by March 15. Migingo Island in Lake Victoria between the two countries is one of the most densely populated settlements in the world, with over 500 people living in less than 2,000 square meters. The island has been disputed territory along the border since it began to grow from the receding of Lake Victoria. In 2016, the two countries created a joint committee to determine the border, though it has yet to lead to any resolution. The island has been co-managed by both countries, with tensions periodically flaring up.

MARCH 16: Presidential Election, Slovakia 

The first round of voting in Slovakia’s presidential election will take place on March 16. Election surveys show that environmental lawyer Zuzana Caputova has taken a strong lead over Maros Sefcovic, the candidate of former prime minister Robert Fico’s Smer party, which has been in power almost continually since the mid-2000s. Earlier this week, the leading opposition contender quit the race in order to consolidate voter bases and better challenge Fico. The second round of the election, if needed, is scheduled for March 30.

MARCH 17: Grand Council on Peace Talks, Afghanistan

Afghanistan is planning to convene a Grand Council—known as a loya jirga—on March 17 to discuss how to end the Taliban insurgency. The loya jirga will bring together over 2,000 participants for over four days of debate, according to Umer Daudzai, the special peace envoy appointed last year by President Ashraf Ghani. The loya jirga is a centuries-old institution used to build consensus and was used to lay the foundations of a post-Taliban society after the US-led invasion drove the group from power in 2001.

MARCH 29: Brexit Deadline

March 29, 2019 will mark two years since British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, which began the United Kingdom’s process for withdrawing from the EU. While it is the legal deadline, at this point it does not mean that the UK will actually withdraw on that day. An approved agreement for UK withdrawal is increasingly unlikely, as Prime Minister May has agreed to offer parliament the chance to extend Article 50 negotiations and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to support on a second referendum on the final deal. At this point, it seems more likely that the new Brexit day will be deferred to June 30. 

MARCH 31: Presidential Election, Ukraine

The election for president of Ukraine will take place on March 31. According to polls published earlier this week, the frontrunner so far is comedian and actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy. There are currently 44 candidates, and if none wins 50 percent of the vote—as is being predicted—there will be a run-off between the top two candidates on April 21. President Petro Poroshenko is seeking reelection at a time when his record on tackling corruption is under heavy debate. He so far trails in the polls and has faced criticism for not doing enough to combat corruption. 

MARCH TBD: Security Council Briefing on Yemen

The UN Security Council is expecting a briefing by the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on the implementation of two of its resolutions on the conflict in Yemen. The first, resolution 2451, authorized a team to monitor implementation of the Stockholm Agreement between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels. The second, resolution 2452, established the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA). Advancing the Stockholm Agreement remains difficult, and deploying UNMHA has also been a challenge.

MARCH TBD: China-US Summit on Trade

Plans are being made for a summit on trade between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump in mid-March. There is a likelihood that a final trade deal being prepared by US officials could be signed by the leaders during the meeting. While President Trump’s top trade negotiator has said that more work needs to be done before a deal can be struck, his economic advisor said the countries on the verge of an “historic” pact. Trump had previously planned to raise tariffs on China on March 1, but delayed the increase due to the progress made in negotiations.

MARCH TBD: UN Envoy to Meet with Western Saharan Opposition, Berlin

The United Nations envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler, is expected to meet with the Polisario Front—the Sahrawi national liberation movement—in Berlin in early March to prepare for the second roundtable to be held in Switzerland later in the month. The meeting is part of the bilateral consultations that Kohler intends to hold with the parties to the conflict (the Polisario Front and Morocco) and neighboring countries.