In 2012 the merry-go-round of summits moves to new cities. Denmark has taken over the Presidency of the EU as the eurozone battles to save its currency; in July the baton will be passed to Cyprus where no doubt the issue of the divided island and Turkey’s membership will gain prominence again.
The AU is meeting in Addis Ababa for their 18th Summit where the theme of the summit is intra-African trade but security issues in South Sudan, Somalia and the Great Lakes region are likely to concentrate minds. A new country will be elected to hold the presidency and there is talk of a challenge for the chairmanship of the Commission as well: South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is running against incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon in a bid to make the organisation less of an old boys’ club and more pro-active.
And a more pro-active approach to Somalia is what senior representatives of more than 40 nations as well as international organisations at the Conference on Somalia in London (23 February) will try to achieve.
Environmental experts and politicians will gather again in Rio for the United Nations Earth Summit or Rio+20 (4-6 June), which will reflect on progress made since the Rio Summit in 1992 and consider effective policy options to manage climate change. Discussions will continue at COP18 in Qatar (26 November to 7 December).
But talks on the climate may have to take a backseat as the world grapples with the continued economic slowdown, something the leaders of the world’s largest economies will discuss at the G8 Summit in Chicago (15-22 May).
They will be joined by the leaders of the world’s big emerging economies a month later for the G20 Summit in Mexico’s Los Cabos, Baja California (18-19 June). Hopefully election fever in both host countries will be a spur for results rather than a distraction.
Cambodia took over the Chairmanship of ASEAN from Indonesia in November last year and heads of state and government will meet for the 21st Summit in Phnom Penh (18-20 November), which will also include related summits with the UN, US and India.
And if diplomats are looking to take a short break somewhere during this busy year, why not try Maribor in Slovenia or Guimarães in Portugal, both of whom are European Capitals of Culture and have a fantastic line-up of events throughout 2012.