Key Global Events to Watch in January

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

JANUARY 10: Conference of Darfuri Refugees and Displaced People, Sudan

Last month, members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and government agreed to hold a conference in North Darfur on January 10 where representatives from Darfuri refugees and displaced people will be chosen to participate in Sudan’s peace process. Peace talks began in October in Juba, and will potentially deal with how the cessation of hostilities will be monitored and how to ensure humanitarian assistance is provided to all of Darfur and the Blue Nile region.

JANUARY 11: Presidential and Legislative Elections, Taiwan

Taiwan will hold elections for its president and legislature on January 11. The incumbent president, Tsai Ing-wen, seems likely to defeat her main opponent, Han Kuo-yo. The president’s strength in the lead up to the election has been bolstered by the student protests in Hong Kong and strong economic growth. According to analysts, China has placed consistent pressure on the Tsai administration, and her reelection would force the Chinese government to reassess its approach and potentially increase its pressure. Beijing’s decision will have implications for Taiwan and the United States, particularly given the ongoing trade war between the US and China.

JANUARY 13: US-China Trade Deal Signing

A delegation from China will travel to the United States on January 13 to sign the first phase of a trade deal aimed at easing the trade war. The delegation will be led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will sign on behalf of the Chinese government. US President Donald Trump announced that the deal will be signed in the White House on January 15. Phase two of a trade deal will reportedly depend on the extent to which the first phase’s provisions are implemented.

JANUARY 15: Expiration of Mandate for UN’s Yemen Mission

On January 15, the mandate of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) will expire. The UN Security Council is expected to renew UNMHA’s mandate and receive its monthly briefing on the situation in Yemen from Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. A review of the mission submitted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in October 2019 found that UNMHA has a tangible and calming effect and that the mission’s objectives remain relevant and achievable.

JANUARY 20: Universal Periodic Review Working Group Meeting, Geneva

The 35th session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review working group will convene between January 20–31. The Universal Periodic Review is the process through which the human rights records of all UN member states are reviewed. The process is designed to ensure equal treatment for each country and provide an opportunity for each member state to demonstrate the actions they have taken to improve human rights. During this session, the human rights records of Armenia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lesotho, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey will be reviewed.

JANUARY 21–24: World Economic Forum Meeting, Davos

The world’s political and business leaders and thinkers will gather in Davos, Switzerland at the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum from January 21 to 24. According to a release on the meeting’s agenda, attendees will discuss efforts to improve society, the economy, and the environment.

JANUARY 26: Parliamentary Elections, Peru

Following the dissolution of parliament by President Martín Vizcarra in September, legislative elections are scheduled to be held in Peru on January 26. After years of gridlock between the executive and legislature, Vizcarra dissolved parliament in an effort to address corruption. His decision came after members of parliament chose to ignore a bill he presented calling for elections to be held in 2020. The new congress will likely be very fragmented and no party is expected to have a commanding majority.

JANUARY 31: Expected Renewal of UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), as it expires on January 31. The mandate’s renewal comes after a year with minimal developments in unification talks, which collapsed after the most recent round of negotiations in July 2017. In an effort to reinvigorate the process, Secretary-General Guterres hosted an informal meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinçi in Berlin in November 2019.

JANUARY 31: Brexit Deadline

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on January 31 but, first, the UK Parliament has to approve to leave on the terms negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. After January 31, the UK would enter a temporary transition period that ends on December 31, 2020. In the intervening months, the UK will remain in the EU customs union and single market, but outside of its political institutions (i.e., they will not be represented in EU Parliament).