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 2–13: UN Climate Change Conference (COP25), Madrid

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) began today in Spain. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of the accelerating impacts of climate change in a press conference yesterday, and called on governments to increase their commitments. He called particularly on “main emitters” to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which remains a challenge. China is constructing more coal-fired power plants and the United States submitted its official notice of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement on November 4.

DECEMBER 3–4: NATO Summit, London

The leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will mark the 70th anniversary of the organization in a meeting on December 3 and 4. The meeting comes at a time when both President Donald Trump of the United States and President Emmanuel Macron of France have questioned the validity of the collective security article of the alliance’s founding treaty. While President Trump has repeatedly criticized the alliance, he will participate in the meeting, seeking to emphasize his foreign policy achievements.

DECEMBER 5: OPEC Meeting, Vienna

The 14 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet in Vienna on December 5, and will be joined by 10 other nations from a Russian-led coalition. Saudi Arabia is expected to push other OPEC members to cut oil production as it prepares for the initial public offering (IPO) of its state-run oil company, Aramco. The company’s IPO is scheduled for December 11.

DECEMBER 9: Ukraine-Russia Peace Talks, Paris

The first round of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia are scheduled for December 9 in Paris. For the first time since 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that he will attend the talks, being held under the Normandy format, with France and Germany mediating. In a recent interview, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine expressed uncertainty over whether European leaders would defend his country’s land without pressure from the United States.

DECEMBER 10: Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony, Oslo

The Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony will be held in Oslo on December 10. This year’s recipient is Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, who was selected “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”

DECEMBER 10: Gulf Cooperation Council Summit, Riyadh

The 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit will be held in Saudi Arabia on December 10. Since 2017, the GCC has been split due to the blockage of Qatar by Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Recently, however, reports indicated that Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited Riyadh. According to the GCC’s secretary-general, the summit will focus on “political, defence, economic and social issues.”

DECEMBER 12: Presidential Election, Algeria

Algeria will hold an election for president on December 12. Anti-government protestors have been marching in the capital for weeks, pressuring authorities to cancel the vote. This follows protests throughout 2019 calling for the ruling elite that has been in power since 1962 to step aside. Long-time ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April, but demonstrators continue to reject any election while members of the ruling elite stay in place. Pro-government groups have also gone to the streets to push for Algerians to participate in the election. The army—Algeria’s most powerful institution—says the election is the only way out of the current crisis.

DECEMBER 12–13: European Council Summit, Brussels

The European Council will convene European Union (EU) leaders present on December 12 and 13. EU leaders will look at a range of issues, including climate change and the long-term budget. One outcome of the meeting is a long-term strategy on climate change that will be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) secretariat in early 2020.

DECEMBER 12: General Election, United Kingdom

The United Kingdom will vote in a general election on December 12. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the election in a bid to deliver on his Brexit promise. Johnson’s party seems primed to win, as recent polls show the Conservative Party holding a seven point lead over the opposition Labour Party. If the prime minister wins the election, he has promised he will deliver the Brexit deal he negotiated with Brussels in September, though it is unclear he will secure the majority he needs to do so. The former prime minister Theresa May also called for an election to secure her majority when polls showed her in a strong position, only for that majority to disappear.

DECEMBER 20: Mandate Expiration for UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) will expire on December 20, requiring the Security Council to renew it before the end of the month. In recent weeks, public discontent with the UN has boiled over into demonstrations and violence. Dozens of civilians have been killed by the Allied Democratic Front—a group being fought by the army—and demonstrators have been protesting a lack of civilian protection by MONUSCO. In the Beni region, 81 people have been killed since November 5, according to the Congo Research Group (CRG).

DECEMBER 22: Presidential Election, Croatia

Croatia’s presidential election will be held on December 22. The candidates thus far are incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), former prime minister Zoran Milanovic who represents the Social Democrats, and two independent candidates. The position is largely ceremonial, though the president does have a say in foreign policy and defense. 

DECEMBER 29: Second Round of Presidential Election, Guinea-Bissau 

Two former Prime Ministers—Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Sissoco Embalo—will face each other in the second round of Guinea-Bissau’s election for president on December 29. Pereira won 40 percent of the vote in the first round to Embalo’s 27 percent. Campaigning for the vote begins on December 13.