ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 21 – 27 May

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 21 to Sunday, 27 May from Foresight News

By Nicole Hunt

The World Health Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review both open in Geneva on Monday. The WHA, which runs until 26 May, is due to agree on a Draft Global Vaccine Action Plan, while the UNHRC, which runs until 4 June, is due to consider the human rights situation in Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and the UK, among others.

Following talks between the IAEA and Iranian officials last week, IAEA Director General Yukia Amano heads to Tehran to meet with Secretary of the Supreme National Council Saeed Jalili and other senior government officials. The visit comes two days before Iran is due to resume talks with its P5+1 partners in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Imprisoned Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko’s trial for embezzlement resumes in Kharkiv. Tymoshenko’s appeal trial for her earlier conviction on abuse of power charges was abruptly postponed last week to give the court more time to study new material. Awkwardly for Ukraine, that decision means that her next hearing on 26 June will take place during the Euro 2012 tournament, guaranteeing even more international attention.

Italy’s national statistics agency releases its annual report on the state of the nation on Tuesday, which in all likelihood is not going to be particularly positive. The report looks at socio-economic developments in the past 20 years, focusing on inequalities in the economic system, and considers prospects for the country’s economic future.

Other than that, Tuesday is all about big court dates. The European Court for Human Rights issues its judgement in the long-running case of Scoppola v. Italy, which considers prisoners’ voting rights in the EU.  In Port Louis, Mauritius, two men go on trial for the January 2011 murder of Northern Irish honeymooner Michaela McAreavey, daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.

In Ventersdorp, South Africa, the verdict is due in the case of two men, one of them an unnamed teenager, who are charged with the April 2010 murder of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugene Terre’blanche. And in Manama, a court hearing is scheduled in the re-trial of 21 activists charged with attempting to overthrow the monarchy, including hunger striker Abdulhadi al Khawaja,

After months of protests over military rule and weeks of legal wrangling over candidates and the election itself, Egypt’s presidential election is finally set to go ahead on Wednesday. Former Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh are front-runners in the campaign, which has seen several candidates disqualified. Voting continues on Saturday, with a second round scheduled for 16-17 June.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy hosts an informal meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, the first for French President Francois Hollande and presumably the only meeting for Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister Panagotis Pikrammenos, who is keeping an eye on things while Greece prepares for new elections on 17 June. EU growth and ongoing political uncertainty are expected to dominate the agenda.

The European Parliament wraps up its four day session in Strasbourg on Thursday with a vote on a resolution regarding the situation in Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko. MEPs actually debate the resolution on Tuesday, but any official censure of the Ukrainian government will have to wait until today’s vote. Parliametnarians also vote on a resolution on the fight against homophobia in Europe.

Amnesty International launches its annual State of the World’s Human Rights report in London. Last year’s report focused on the use of new technologies to combat human rights abuses throughout the world, and particularly in the Middle East. This year’s update will allow us to see how or if human rights have progressed in those same countries, many of them under new governments or constitutions.

The Square Kilometre Array Organisation, which is responsible for deciding whether the €1.5bn telescope will be built in Australia or South Africa, meets in Amsterdam on Friday. A decision on the site had been expected in April, but the SKA instead set up a working group to look at maximising value from the investments made by both candidates. A final decision could be made at Friday’s meeting…or the members could instead decide to go away and think about it some more.

The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries wraps up a five-day visit to Libya, the first to the country by independent experts designated by the UN Human Rights Council. A press conference is planned in Tripoli to discuss the Group’s preliminary findings regarding allegations about the use of mercenaries during last year’s conflict and an assessment of the measures taken by the Libyan government to address the issue and its aftermath.

The African nation of Lesotho is holding parliamentary elections on Saturday, hoping to choose a functioning government and avoid the years of political deadlock that followed polls in 2007. Prime Minister Mosisili Pakalitha recently made waves by defecting from the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy, opting instead to create the Ntsu Democratic Congress.

Fans of Europop, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Central Europe are in for a treat, as Baku, Azerbaijan hosts the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. Organisers have come under fire for holding this year’s contest in Baku despite strong criticisms of Azerbaijan’s human rights record and allegations that a park adjacent to the Baku Crystal Palace (where the contest is held) was created by illegally evicting homeowners and expropriating the land.

Nepal’s MPs have until Sunday to promulgate a new constitution, which was originally due in May 2010. The deadline has been repeatedly extended over the past two years, but lawmakers recently announced that they had come to an agreement on some of the most contentious issues, raising hopes that Sunday’s deadline may be the last.

In other international parliamentary news, Iran’s new parliament is sche
duled to begin a new session, with a customary opening speech from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Following elections in March, the new parliament includes nearly 200 new MPs and is dominated by conservatives, many of them opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which means Ahmadinejad could once again find himself hauled before parliament for questioning.