Key Global Events to Watch in February

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

FEBRUARY 6: Meeting of Spain’s President and Catalan Leader, Madrid

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain is scheduled to meet with Catalan regional president Quim Torra to lay the ground for talks on resolving the separatist conflict. This week, Torra announced early snap elections to break the political deadlock in the region, which prompted some in the central government to call for a cancellation of the meeting.

FEBRUARY 6: Hearing on Release of Laurent Gbagbo, The Hague

Lawyers for the former president of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, filed an application for his unconditional release after he was acquitted of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on January 14. His application will be heard on February 6. The current government informed ICC judges that it opposes Gbagbo’s unconditional release. Gbagbo was charged over the violence that occurred in Côte d’Ivoire following the 2010 presidential election.

FEBRUARY 8: General Election, Ireland 

This month, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the dissolution of parliament and called for a general election on February 8. A minority government led by Varadkar’s center-right Fine Gael has ruled since 2016. With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, Varadkar and Michael Martin of the Fianna Fail party indicated the need for a general election before May.

FEBRUARY 9–10: 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU), Addis Ababa

The AU will hold its 33rd ordinary session on February 9 and 10 in Addis Ababa. A range of topics will be discussed at the summit including those related to peace and security in Africa. Among these is the situation in Libya, which has been gripped by conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed ousting of Muammar Ghaddafi. Algeria offered to host a reconciliation forum on Libya, as the conflict has intensified and even Turkey has sent troops to the country in support of the government in Tripoli.

FEBRUARY 9: Local and Parliamentary Elections, Cameroon

Local and parliamentary elections will be held in Cameroon on February 9 amid separatist violence in portions of the country. Many citizens have fled into Nigeria from the northwest region of Cameroon to avoid clashes between rebels and government troops. The country’s election commission said that many election workers are being threatened by separatist fighters and that some of their English-speaking offices have been destroyed in attacks. The government has deployed troops in Yaounde in response to increasing attacks. 

FEBRUARY 10: 58th Session of the Commission for Social Development, New York

The fifty-eighth session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) will take place from February 10 to 19 in New York. The Commission is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Commission and the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. The priority theme of this year’s session is affordable housing and social protection systems for addressing homelessness.

FEBRUARY 21: Parliamentary Elections, Iran

On February 21, Iran will hold parliamentary elections. Public discontent over the handling of the Ukraine Airlines disaster and general perceptions of mismanagement are expected to result in a reduced turnout. The Guardian Council, which vets all legislation and electoral candidates, disqualified more than a third of the 14,500 candidates for the elections—including 90 incumbents. Observers and current members of parliament claim that the disqualifications are aimed at strengthening the base of strong supporters of the government.

FEBRUARY 22: Presidential Election, Togo

Togo will hold its election for the presidency on February 22. Current President Faure Gnassingbé will be seeking his fourth term. Though reforms were previously passed limiting presidents to two terms, Gnassingbé will be allowed to run for a further two terms if he wins. He has ruled Togo since the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, in 2005, who himself ruled the country for almost forty years after a coup in 1967.

FEBRUARY 24: Start of UN Human Rights Council’s 43rd Session, Geneva

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 43rd regular session between February 24 and March 20. Over the course of the month a wide range of human rights topics will be presented to and considered by the Council. Among these are presentations on the situation of human rights in Iran, Burundi, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar, and Venezuela. The Council will also consider and adopt the final outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of Italy, El Salvador, the Gambia, Bolivia, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

TBD FEBRUARY: US President Donald Trump to Visit India

President Narendra Modi of India is preparing to welcome President Donald Trump of the United States in late February. His visit comes at a time of political trouble for Modi, who will use it as a boost in the face of widespread protests across India against his policies. The state of Gujarat is expected to host President Trump.