Here in New York City, summer is a very peaceful time. The city clears out as people head for the Hamptons, Cape Cod, the Berkshires, or points elsewhere--and suddenly you can walk into a restaurant without a reservation, see a movie without buying a ticket days in advance, and parking spaces can be found everywhere. However, the world of international affairs never takes a break...
On 8 July begins the NATO Summit in Warsaw, where the press conferences will spotlight questions relating to NATO in a post-Brexit world-- but, *spoiler alert* the Brexit won’t affect NATO too much, and the long term ramifications are abstract in the short-term. Behind the scenes, in the official meetings, the focus will be on Russia and how to counter Russian actions all along NATO’s border. This focus should surprise nobody as containing Russia is a primary purpose of NATO. Unofficially, I suspect, the discussions will be about the possibility of a Donald J. Trump presidency and what it would mean for the future of the alliance.
The NATO Summit is not the only thing to pay attention to this summer. July will also bring us other major international meetings. Here in New York City, 11-20 July ECOSOC will hold a “High Level Forum on Sustainable Development” which will review progress made toward the Sustainable Development Goals. It will be interesting to see how rapidly the member states will have made any adjustments in pursuit of these goals in the six short months since the SDGs were adopted. 12-13 July the 70th UN General Assembly will hold its first of three high level events, this one focusing on human rights. The 10-18 July African Union Summit in Kigali will also focus on human rights “with particular focus on the rights of women,” and the ASEAN regional forum will take place later in the month on 23-26 July.
Technically, the party conventions are when the party delegates cast their votes, make the nomination official, and the general election begins. In practice, these events are nothing more than coronation ceremonies. This year will be somewhat different. The Democratic Convention in Philadelphia 25-28 July will be a fairly straightforward event. After some contentious meetings between supporters of Bernie Sanders and supporters of Hillary Clinton, about largely irrelevant language on the party platform, the coronation will proceed apace. There will be major speeches from a great many prominent democrats. It is quite likely we’ll hear from Barack and Michelle Obama, Chelsea and Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and of course Hillary Clinton will close the show.
In August the eyes of the world will of course turn to the Olympic Games in Rio, and after days and days of progressively more anxious newspaper articles about how Brazil isn’t ready, everything will be a disaster, and how the mosquitos will kill us all, my guess is that it will all turn out fine. But while we’re looking at Rio, or at the latest Trump outrage, people all over Africa will be electing new leaders. There are local elections in South Africa on 3 August, and the rest of the month will feature elections in Zambia, Uganda, Gabon, Cape Verde, and Somalia. On 7 August, Thailand will hold a controversial Constitutional Referendum. As the Guardian writes, “In a rare show of unity, political parties on both sides of Thailand’s divide have said the draft constitution is undemocratic and will enshrine military power and hobble civilian politics.” Will this election make permanent military rule, or will it provide an opening for the return of the still-influential, but twice-deposed, Shinawatra family?
So this summer, while all of your friends are on vacation, and you’re stuck at the office or at home, there’s no need to fret or to go into international affairs withdrawal. There are some interesting things going on… and plenty of opportunities to liveTweet.
Dr. Jonathan Cristol is a fellow at the World Policy Institute and senior fellow at Bard College’s Center for Civic Engagement. You can follow him on Twitter: @jonathancristol. He thanks Jordan Curley, Julia Gordon, and Harper Rubin for their valuable assistance with this article.
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Cover Image: [G-8 leaders watching overtime shootout of the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich Champions League
final, in the Laurel Cabin conference room during the G8 Summit at Camp
David, Md., May 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) via Wikipedia] This summer, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will be a cause of joy for many nations all over the world.
What is your expectation from this summer in world politics? Are politicians ever on vacation, and is international politics the field that never gets a rest? Join the discussion and leave your comments in the discussion box below.