Key Global Events to Watch in May

A list of key upcoming meetings and events that have implications for global affairs compiled by the Global Observatory.

MAY 3: World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day, observed on May 3, is an annual celebration of press freedom which is organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. According to Reporters Without Borders, in 73 percent of the 180 countries ranked in their World Press Freedom Index, journalism is partially or completely blocked.

MAY 6–7: 12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Virtual

The 12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue session will be held virtually from May 6–7. The dialogue series was launched in 2010 after the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, and has been held annually since. It facilitates open discussions in small groups on key issues in international climate policy.

MAY 6–7: UN Development Cooperation Forum, New York

The United Nations Development Cooperation Forum will happen on May 6 and 7, during the session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Development Cooperation Forum reviews the latest trends and progress in international development cooperation, which it aims to improve. Among attendees are ministers, experts, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, among others.

MAY 17: 87th Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

The 87th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will begin on May 17 and continue until June 4. The CRC is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by states parties. This session will consider the state reports of Luxembourg and Tunisia.

MAY 26: Election for President, Syria

An election for president will be held in Syria on May 26, as announced last week by parliament. While 51 people apparently submitted their nomination requests, the country’s constitutional court selected two “obscure figures”—former deputy cabinet minister Abdallah Saloum Abdallah, and the head of a small, officially sanctioned opposition party, Mahmoud Ahmed Marei—to appear on the ballot opposite President Bashar al-Assad. Assad, who has been in power since the death of his father in 2000, will almost certainly win.

MAY 30–31: Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals Summit, Seoul

Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) Summit will be held in Seoul on May 30 and 31. The P4G Summit aims to be a delivery mechanism for delivering tangible gains on the Sustainable Development Goals and impact on climate change. It is being positioned as a stepping stone to the UN Climate Change Conference this November, and will bring together heads of state, private sector executives, and civil society leaders.

MAY TBD: Afghanistan Peace Talks, Istanbul

Though originally scheduled to be held in April, peace talks on ending the war in Afghanistan were postponed until “after Ramadan and Eid festivities” as announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The decision of the United States to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan slowed the pace of talks as there was no rush to meet the May 1 deadline for troop removal, previously agreed upon with the Taliban. Though the Taliban has not claimed responsibility, the bombing of a guesthouse on April 30 that killed at least 27 people may be a signal that the group is seeking leverage.

MAY TBD: UN Security Council Briefing on G5 Sahel Joint Force

In May, the Security Council is expected to hold a briefing on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel), formed in 2017 by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger (G5 Sahel), to combat terrorist and criminal groups in the region. With the recent death of President Idriss Déby of Chad, there are concerns about the stability of the country and space that could open for terrorist groups to strengthen.

MAY TBD: Security Council to Renew Mandate of UNAMI

This month, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which expires at the end of the month. The Special Representative and head of UNAMI, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, is scheduled to brief the Council on recent developments and on the two latest reports of the secretary-general: one on UNAMI itself and the other and on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, and missing Kuwaiti property.

MAY TBD: Talks Between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Baghdad

In a bid to reduce regional tensions, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been in discussions on ways to reconcile their disagreements. The talks have taken place at high levels of government, and a second round may take place in May, perhaps at the ambassadorial level. Both sides are interested in ending the conflict in Yemen, with points of disagreement on Saudi support for sanctions against Iran, Iran’s backing of militias in Iraq, potential normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, among other issues.