Key Global Events to Watch in December

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

DECEMBER: Iran Nuclear Talks, Vienna

The parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have resumed talks in Vienna, a continuation of six rounds of talks to restore the Iran nuclear deal after the withdrawal of the United States (US) in 2018. The talks were paused in June as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi formed a new administration. Sanctions and nuclear working groups have also restarted their activities. Representatives of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom are present at the talks, with messages being relayed to US representatives. If successful, the talks will lift unilateral US sanctions and scale back Iran’s nuclear program. The Biden administration has indicated that it wants to maintain some of the human rights and terrorism sanctions, as well as those imposed by the Trump administration.

DECEMBER 1: 11th High-Level Forum on the Republic of Korea-Caribbean Partnership, Virtual

South Korea and Caribbean countries held their annual high-level forum on December 1. The theme of this year is “Korea-Caribbean digital and innovation partnership in the post-COVID era.” Discussions included the impact of the pandemic on social and economic activity, the use of digital technology and the digital divide, the impacts on education, and technology sovereignty.

DECEMBER 2: European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Leaders’ Meeting, Virtual

The leaders of the European Union (EU) and of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries will meet via video conference on December 2. The meeting will be chaired by President of the European Council, Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will represent the EU, and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, will also be in attendance. The Latin American and Caribbean countries will be represented by the leaders holding the presidencies of regional and sub-regional organizations in 2021. The theme of the meeting will be “Joining forces for a sustainable post-COVID recovery” and leaders are expected to discuss the sanitary and socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, the green transition, a human-centric digital agenda, and promoting social cohesion and addressing inequalities.

DECEMBER 4: Presidential Election, the Gambia

Gambia’s ninth direct presidential election will take place on December 4. The first since former President Yahya Jammeh was ousted by Adama Barrow in December 2016, ending 22 years of oppressive rule marked by human rights violations, the election is expected to be an important step in the country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. Barrow currently leads opinions polls, with 41 percent intending to vote for the incumbent. An immediate challenge for a new Barrow government would be responding to the recent final report of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.

DECEMBER 6: Eurogroup Meeting, Brussels

The Eurogroup, an informal body in which the ministers from “eurozone” member states discuss their countries’ common responsibilities related to the euro, will meet on December 6. The focus of this month’s discussions will be draft budget plans, as well as looking at the biannual post-program surveillance reports for Cyprus, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain, and the enhanced surveillance report for Greece and policy contingent debt measures. Post-program surveillance begins after a financial assistance program has ended.

DECEMBER 6-7: Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, Senegal

This year’s Dakar Forum will be held on December 6 and 7 in the Abdou Diouf in Diamniadio, Senegal, and is expected to bring together 500 high-level participants. The theme of the 2021 edition of the conference will be “The challenge of stability and emergence facing Africa in a post-Covid 19 world.” The first part of the conference will focus on collectively addressing pandemics, as well as other main issues facing the continent, including climate and demographic changes and cybersecurity and disinformation. The second segment will look at consolidating peace and security across Africa, including security cooperation between African nations, the fight against violent extremism, and the monitoring and control of maritime areas.

DECEMBER 13: European Union Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels

European Union foreign affairs ministers will meet on December 13 to discuss EU-Africa relations, including security, development, demographic growth, health, democratic evolution, and multilateral engagement. The Council will also consider the EU’s bilateral and regional engagement in Central Asia, with a particular focus on connectivity, the situation in Afghanistan, and Venezuela, including the results of the EU election observation mission. The Council will be informed about Belarus, Varosha, and Ethiopia, as well as holding an informal exchange with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar.

DECEMBER 16-17: European Council Meeting, Brussels

The heads of state and government of EU member states, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will meet on December 16 and 17 to discuss the EU’s overall political direction and priorities. The agenda of this meeting is expected to include COVID-19, crisis management and resilience, energy prices, security and defense, and external relations.

DECEMBER 19: Presidential Election, Second Round, Chile

Chilean citizens will vote in a runoff election for president on December 19. The second-round candidates are far-right front-runner, José Antonio Kast, who received 28 percent of the first-round vote, and left-wing former student leader, Gabriel Boric, who received 26 percent of the vote. This is the first presidential election since protests erupted in 2019 over inequality, weak human rights protections, and precarious social services. The demonstrations resulted in voters electing a reform-orientated assembly of citizen-delegates to write a new constitution to replace that of the Pinochet era, which enshrined an economic model of free markets and a minimal social safety net. Kast, an admirer of Pinochet, is running on law and order and spending cuts, while Boric, allied with those seeking a more inclusive, just, and democratic Chile, is promising to promote feminism and climate action.

DECEMBER 19: Legislative Elections, Hong Kong

The first Legislative Council (LegCo) elections in Hong Kong since a “patriots only” electoral system was introduced by Beijing will be held on December 19. The major pro-democracy parties have not put forward any candidates. Many democratic lawmakers had previously resigned over a loyalty oath, while some candidates have been disqualified from running under the new rules. The vote comes in the wake of the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests and the Beijing-imposed national security law, which has facilitated a crackdown on protestors and civil society and reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy.

DECEMBER 24: Presidential Election, Libya

Libya’s first direct presidential election is set to take place on 24 December, following almost a decade of civil war after the NATO-backed overthrow of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libyan rivals signed a ceasefire in October 2020 but disputes over election rules, including the eligibility of some high-profile candidates, have increased tensions and the situation remains highly volatile. The United Nations Special Envoy for Libya, Ján Kubiš, resigned last month.