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. 

ONGOING: Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19)

COVID-19 disease (caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus) has now spread to at least 56 countries, and the World Health Organization raised its risk assessment level to “very high,” the highest in its alert system. Worries of a pandemic are spreading, with impacts on business, travel, financial markets, and global events, big and small, including:

  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled, postponed, or relocated, with a decision to come as late as May;
  • Iran has suspended meetings of parliament due to its members contracting the disease;
  • Switzerland has banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people until March 15;
  • Facebook cancelled its annual F8 developer conference;
  • Many other conferences in business and development have been postponed or cancelled;
  • Events in film, art, and entertainment across the world are also being cancelled.

MARCH 1: Parliamentary Elections and Constitutional Referendum, Guinea

On March 1, voters in Guinea will elect members of parliament and choose whether to adopt a new constitution. The parliamentary poll has been postponed a few times, and the main opposition parties are boycotting the election. The referendum is unpopular and critics claim it is President Alpha Conde’s strategy to stay in power after being democratically elected in 2010. Conde’s response is that the constitutional changes will respond to the “needs of the world today.” Protests have been held against the referendum since October.

MARCH 1: Parliamentary Elections, Tajikistan

Tajikistan will hold elections for the lower house of parliament on March 1. There is minimal competition and it is expected that the party of President Emomali Rahmon, the People’s Democratic Party (PDPT) will dominate. A few smaller parties, including the lone opposition Social Democratic Party, are on the ballot. They are expected to win only a handful of seats.

MARCH 2: Legislative Election, Israel

After inconclusive results from elections in April and September 2019, Israelis will vote again for the legislature (Knesset) on March 2. The party that holds the majority of seats, or is able to form a coalition government, will appoint the prime minister. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the right-wing Likud party, has been in a fierce competition with former military chief Benny Gantz, who leads the centrist Blue and White party. Netanyahu has remained in the race despite his upcoming trial on corruption charges.

MARCH 2: Parliamentary Elections, Guyana

Guyana will hold elections for parliament on March 2, a vote that comes just over a year after the coalition of President David Granger lost its majority. A long-standing political standoff means that the results of the poll are likely to be disputed, meaning a coalition government will be necessary. The poll comes at a critical time for the country, which is going through an oil production and revenue boom.

MARCH 2–27: 128th Session of the UN Human Rights Committee, Geneva

The United Nations Human Rights Committee will hold its 128th session from March 2 to 27. The Committee monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Under review will be the Central African Republic, Dominica, Haiti, Kenya, Philippines, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.

MARCH 8: International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which will be celebrated under the theme of building a gender equal world. As in previous years, the campaign launched on International Women’s Day is designed to run all year, and aims to provide a unified direction for collective action.

MARCH 9–20: Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), New York 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The 64th Commission on the Status of Women, being held in New York from March 9 to 20, will focus on the progress made in those twenty five years and on realizing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, CSW will be significantly curtailed. UN member state representatives in New York will only convene for a procedural meeting, and participants from outside the US will no longer be traveling to New York. All side events planned by member states or NGOs are also cancelled.

MARCH 17: Trial of Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem

Only weeks after Israelis vote for a third time in a year, on March 17, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial on corruption charges will begin. Netanyahu will be required to attend the opening of the trial in Jerusalem District Court to hear the indictment against him from a three-panel judge. He has been accused of accepting over $260,000 in gifts from tycoons, and of giving regulatory favors for improved coverage in news media. If convicted of bribery he could face up to 10 years in prison, and up to three years for fraud and breach of trust. He has consistently denied wrongdoing.

MARCH 29: Parliamentary Elections, Mali 

Mali will hold elections for parliament on March 29. Recurring violence in the country will likely impact turnout for the poll, as attacks by armed groups has increasingly targeted civilians and Malian security forces in recent months. The election comes after the central government announced that it would be increasing the size of the army by 50 percent in an effort to combat jihadist groups. The plan outlined by Prime Minister Boubou Cisse is to hire 10,000 additional troops.

MARCH TBD: Negotiations Between the Taliban and Afghan Government

After a peace deal between the United States and Taliban is signed on February 29, talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban are expected to be held at some point in March. Throughout negotiations with the US, the Taliban has refused to meet with the Afghan government, who they view as an “illegitimate puppet regime.” It is unclear whether the talks will actually take place and in what form. Experts have pointed out that minorities and women have been excluded from the peace process and in political process in Afghanistan, a paramount concern given the Taliban’s track record with those groups.