ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 2 to 8 July

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 2 to Sunday, 8 July from Foresight News

By Nicole Hunt

Following the Syria Action Group conference in Geneva on Saturday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and head of UN peacekeeping Herve Ladsous are due to address the UN Security Council in Geneva on Monday, where they are scheduled to deliver their recommendations for the future of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). The report comes on the same day that Syrian opposition members hold their long-delayed unity conference at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty kicks off in New York and is scheduled to last until 27 July. Conference delegates are meant to agree on the terms of a new international treaty which would regulate the global arms trade, a timely topic given recent concern over the flow of arms to Syria and Sudan.

France’s Court of Auditors presents its annual report on the state of the country’s public finances in Paris, which should give President François Hollande a better idea of what he’s dealing with – though, in a week packed with French economic news, it doesn’t give him much time to do anything about it.

The French Parliament opens an extraordinary, month-long summer session on Tuesday in order to push through some of the reforms promised by Hollande during his election campaign, including a pledge for a 75% income tax on earnings above €1m. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault opens the session with a policy statement outlining the government’s priorities for the session.

After such a long gap between previous P5+1 (E3+3) talks, discussions seem to be taking place almost weekly these days. However, while Tuesday’s discussions in Istanbul are in fact the fourth in as many months, they’re being held at technical-level only, as previous higher-level discussions failed to garner any significant progress or results.

The trial of over 40 NGO workers in Egypt – including 19 Americans, among them the son of US Transport Secretary Ray LaHood – resumes in Cairo on Wednesday. The accused are charged with failure to secure licenses to operate in the country and receiving foreign funding, and has threatened to create a rift in US-Egyptian relations. Two Americans returned to Egypt to participate in the last hearing, on 5 June.

Back in Paris, Ayrault is scheduled to present the government’s supplementary budget for 2012 to the President’s weekly cabinet meeting. The budget is rumoured to include over €7bn in tax hikes and job cuts in government ministries as the government tries to meet deficit targets without imposing severe austerity measures on the French population.

On Thursday, French civil aviation authorities publish their final report on the June 2009 Air France 447 disaster, which killed all 228 people on board when the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on its way back to Paris from Rio de Janeiro. An interim report published last year suggested that pilots were not adequately trained to control the plane, a finding that was rejected by victims’ families.

Thursday also marks the climax of the annual Shia pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala, Iraq, during which Shia Muslims celebrate the ninth century birth of Imam Muhammad al Madhi. In past years, the pilgrimage has been a target for extremist sectarian violence.

In Friday’s French news of the day, Paris is hosting the latest instalment of the Friends of Syria group, a meeting which was announced by President Hollande and Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the Houla massacre. As the names suggest, the meeting takes place under different auspices than the Syria Action Group, so it’s currently unclear how the outcome of Saturday’s meeting will affect discussions in Paris.

A court in Stuttgart, Germany is scheduled to deliver its verdict for former Baader-Meinhof Gang member Verena Becker, who has been o ntrial for the 1977 murder of Chief Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback, judicial office Georg Wurster and their driver Wolfgang Gobel. Becker previously served 12 years in prison for her involvement with the Red Army Faction.

Libyans go to the polls on Saturday to elect a Public National Conference, which will be tasked with forming an interim government and appointing a Constituent Authority to draft a constitution – a process that has not gone so well in neighbouring Egypt. The vote was delayed from 19 June after the electoral commission said it needed more time to complete voter registration and ensure that candidates had no links with Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Considerably less controversial elections are also taking place in Timor-Leste, where Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s CNRT and opposition leader Francisco ‘Lu Olo’ Guterres battle over 20 other parties for their share of the 65 seats in the National Parliament. The two parties attempted to create a coalition government after inconclusive 2007 elections, but failed to come to an agreement.

Tokyo hosts an international conference on Afghanistan on Sunday, with officials from over 70 countries and international organisations expected to attend. The conference, which was announced at the NATO Summit in Chicago, focuses on economic development and investment in the country.

We couldn’t end the week without another French story – Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of Franco-German reconciliation. In 1962, President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer attended a mass together in Reims, which signalled the end of hostilities between the countries after World War II. President Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to participate in events in Reims to mark the occasion.