News Timeline: International Organizations 2009


January 28: World Economic Forum

More than 2,000 political and business leaders from 91 countries, including heads of state or government, arrive in Davos, Switzerland for the annual five-day conference of the World Economic Forum. (February 1): The Forum ends. The participants have discussed many problems, such as the global financial crisis, the rise of emerging powers, and the threat of protectionism; however, they have not suggested any solutions.

January 28: World Social Forum

Tens of thousands of activists gather in Belem, Brazil for the 9th World Social Forum with a theme “another world is possible.” The timing of the event is purposely made to coincide with the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos to present an alternative view.

March 4: International Criminal Court (ICC)

The International Criminal Court in The Hague issues an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan’s region of Darfur. Thousands of people died in the conflict where pro-government Arab militias have been carrying out ethnic cleansing against the non-Arab people.

March 17: NATO

The French parliament approves President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to change France’s membership status in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to a full one. The move reverses the 1966 decision by President Charles de Gaulle to pull France out of NATO’s military command, claiming it undermined France’s independence.

April 2: G20

The Group of Twenty (G20), consisting of leaders of the world’s major economies, concludes its summit in London with an agreement providing $1.1 trillion to various programs designed to improve international trade, finance, credit, and overall economic stability. It also provides for tougher global financial regulations and help for countries with struggling economies. New funding includes: $500 billion for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lend to struggling economies, $250 billion to boost trade, and $100 billion for the multilateral development banks to lend to poor countries

April 11: Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Thailand cancels a summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was about to start in Thailand, after thousands of anti-government protesters break into the complex in Pattaya where the visitors were gathering. The Thai government declares a state of emergency and evacuates several leaders from the complex. The Thai opposition has been pressuring the government to organize new elections.

April 30: World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) raises its alert over swine flu to level five – the second highest – which indicates that the disease can spread between humans, and warns that a pandemic is imminent. The highest number of swine flu cases has taken place in Mexico, where people have been encouraged to stay home for the next five days, followed by the United States. Several countries have put restrictions on travel to Mexico.

May 4: Organization of American States (OAS)

The Organization of American States (OAS) votes to readmit Cuba after an absence of more than four decades. Cuba’s membership was suspended in 1962 after it became a communist state. However, Cuba says it does not plan to rejoin the organization.

May 6: NATO

Georgia is hosting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military exercises at the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi. More than 1,000 soldiers from 13 countries arrive for the training. Russia is protesting the exercises, calling the event “an overt provocation.”

May 12: United Nations Humans Rights Council (UNHRC)

United Nations General Assembly elects the United States and 18 other countries to the 47-seat Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Members of the UNHRC are elected to three-year terms. This is a significant reversal of the U.S. policy from the George W. Bush administration, which boycotted the UNHRC. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

June 12: United Nations

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts tougher sanctions against North Korea after its May nuclear tests. They include the inspection of North Korean ships and wider trade and arms embargo. In response, North Korea says it is seeking to enrich uranium for the development of nuclear weapons.

July 10: G-8

Leaders of the G-8 developed countries conclude a three-day annual summit in L’Aquila, Italy. This year, the summit’s agenda included climate change, development in Africa and dialog with emerging countries. The G-8 states, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States, have created a $20 billion initiative to help developing countries boost their agricultural sector. They have also agreed to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. They failed, however, to convince the developing nations to cut their emissions by 50 percent by the same date.

July 20: International War Crimes Tribunal

The International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague finds Bosnian Serb cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukic guilty of war crimes and ethnic cleansing of Muslims during the war in Bosnia between 1992 and 1994 and gives them extensive jail sentences. As members of a paramilitary group, the Lukic cousins committed atrocities, including burning Muslim men, women, and children alive.

July 22: Permanent Court of Arbitration

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague sets new borders for Sudan’s disputed oil-rich Abyei region, awarding greater territorial control to the government of Sudan. Both North and South Sudan accept the ruling; however, it will have to be approved in the referendum on independence of South Sudan in 2011.

September 4: NATO

At least 90 people are killed and many injured, including scores of civilians, during an air strike by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on fuel tanks hijacked by the Taliban insurgents in the Afghan province of Kunduz. The Afghan government is outraged at the civilian casualties and the NATO promises investigation.

September 16: United Nations 

A judge and judicial investigator, Richard Goldstone, turns in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the recent armed conflict in the Gaza Strip that left about 1,400 Gazans and 13 Israelis killed. The report presents evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters committed war crimes. It accuses Israel of purposely using disproportionate force and targeting civilians. It also condemns Palestinian groups of launching rocket attacks that aimed at civilians in Israel. The document encourages both sides to launch their own investigations on the alleged crimes and report their findings to the UN Security Council within six months.

September 21: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran admits that it has a second uranium enrichment plant near Qom. The first one is in the city of Nantaz. At the same time, it says that the plants are only for developing fuel for nuclear power plants. However, the world fears that Iran is developing its nuclear-weapon capabilities in these plants. The IAEA requests access to inspect the facility.

September 25: G-20

World leaders forming the Group of Twenty (G-20), a forum for finance ministers and central bankers, conclude the two-day summit in the city of Pittsburgh in the United States, where they discussed the world economy and financial markets. Among other issues, the Group discussed plans to prevent future financial crises, which included fixing financial regulations, linking bankers’ bonuses to long-term performance, and increasing the amount of capital that banks would be required to keep on reserves.

November 24: World Health Organization (WHO)/UNAIDS

According to a report issued by the World Health Organization and the Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), deaths from HIV have been reduced by 10 percent worldwide since 2005. The reasons for this improvement are among others a more effective treatment, a greater access to anti-retroviral drugs, and HIV prevention programs.

November 26: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Mohammed El-Baradei calls on Iran to accept an international UN-drafted plan that would resolve the dispute over the country’s nuclear program. According to the plan, Iran would ship its low-enriched uranium to Russia for processing. France would then convert the uranium into fuel rods for a reactor in Iran. This process would guarantee that Iran does not use uranium to develop nuclear weapons, but it gets the fuel it needs. (November 27): The IAEA passes a resolution condemning Iran for defying a UN Security Council ban on uranium enrichment and secretly building a second uranium enrichment plant. (November 29): The Iranian government approves a plan to construct 10 more uranium enrichment plants.

December 18: United Nations Climate Change Conference

The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit, held in Copenhagen, Denmark from 7 to 18 December, concludes with the Copenhagen Accord reached only between the United States and four other countries: China, South Africa, India, and Brazil. Other delegates “recognize” the motion, with a few countries opposing it. The Copenhagen Accord states a commitment to keep temperature rises below 2°C, pledges $30 billion a year over the next three years, rising to $100 billion a year by 2020 for the developing countries to help them cope with the impacts of climate change, as well as gives them incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation. However, the Copenhagen Accord does not set targets for carbon cuts and is not legally binding.

December 23: United Nations

The United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions on Eritrea for arming the Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, which is fighting the Somali government for control over the capital, Mogadishu. The sanctions include an arms embargo, travel ban, and asset freezing on businesses and individuals.