ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 31 October – 6 November

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 31 October to Sunday, 6 November from ForesightNews  

By Nicole Hunt 

The week starts off with a bang as humankind hits a big milestone on Monday – the UN is marking the day as the moment the world’s population surpasses seven billion people.

A deadline set by the Arab League two weeks ago for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to open dialogue with the Syrian opposition council expires. Syria risks expulsion from the regional bloc over concerns at the rising death toll from nine months of action against anti-government protesters, which has already topped 3,000.

With Cannes off-limits to all but world leaders, the traditional anti-G20 rally is being held in Nice on Tuesday. The demonstration kicks off a four-day ‘alternative summit’, with many of the world’s biggest NGOs expected to be in attendance.

The two-day London Conference on Cybersecurity begins in London, with Foreign Secretary William Hague, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales all scheduled to speak.

Turkey hosts the Istanbul Conference for Afghanistan on Wednesday, focusing on security and cooperation in the heart of Asia; Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are among those attending. While the Conference could have been lost in the build up to the G20, Karzai’s expected announcement of the next areas where Afghan security forces will take control from NATO is bound to keep it in the headlines.

Of course the G20 itself kicks off on Thursday, though it wouldn’t be surprising if many of the European leaders involved are quite sick of seeing each other – for some, this will be their third meeting in 12 days.

While the G20 leaders are discussing the world’s financial problems, the European Central Bank’s Governing Council will be holding the first of its two meetings this month. The meeting is the first chaired by former Italian Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi, who replaces Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB President on 1 November.

The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca begins on Friday. The five-day festival has in recent years attracted nearly two million foreign pilgrims, making it the largest pilgrimage in the world. Muslims who have the means to make the journey are required to do so at least once during their lifetime.

The Mars500 simulated mission to Mars ‘returns’ to Earth at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. The crew members have been in an isolation chamber for 17 months, even performing several simulated spacewalks during their journey.

Italy’s Partido Democratico holds a pro-democracy, anti-Berlusconi rally in Rome on Saturday. The opposition party is using the occasion to launch its proposals for the reconstruction of the world’s economy and an alternative to Silvio Berlusconi’s embattled government.

In Cape Town, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an international tribunal investigating Israeli complicity in human rights abuses against Palestinians, opens its South African evidence session, with opening remarks from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and an address from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The week closes with two Central American elections. In Guatemala, Otto Perez Molino of the Partido Patriota faces off against Manuel Baldizon of the Libertad Democratica Renovada party in a presidential run-off. Molina won 13 per cent more of the vote in the 11 September first round election.

Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, incumbent President Daniel Ortega is eligible for a second term following an October 2009 decision by the country’s Supreme Court that removed constitutional obstacles that would have prevented him from standing again. Voters also elect members to the country’s parliament.