This week, on the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising, the UN Human Rights Council meets to discuss the continuing catastrophe, and Kofi Annan heads to Homs to witness the destruction at first hand. On Friday, the UN mandate for the mission in Libya expires. Expect all eyes to be fixed on the Middle East.
Syria in the spotlight
Thursday marks a year since mass protests began against Bashar al-Assad's regime, and Amnesty is due to publish a major report in which Syria's torture survivors speak out. Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, is in Syria this week in the hope of brokering a ceasefire and greater access for humanitarian aid. The UN Human Rights Council will also focus on trying to stop the violence in Syria – after mixed diplomatic signals, will Russia and China continue to stall efforts on this front?
Elsewhere in the Middle East this week, the UN mandate for the mission in Libya expires: what impact will the removal of international support have on the situation there?
Meanwhile, the International Energy Forum convenes in Kuwait, as tensions rise over Iran's nuclear programme. With Israel increasingly bellicose and the Iranian leadership intransigent, the pressure is on the UN, on this front too, to help cool things down.
Finally Time for Tax (FTT)?
On Tuesday, European Union finance ministers will meet to discuss a Financial Transactions Tax (or FTT), to be levied on transactions between financial institutions. The idea of a Europe-wide FTT has been in the pipeline for some time, and it could generate around €210bn per year in badly needed government revenue. Campaigners are pushing for the money to be spent on progressive policies, cushioning the impact of spending cuts on the most vulnerable.
How much difference will an FTT make? Tax questions require unanimity across the 27-state EU. With strong opposition from the UK and Sweden, an FTT is never going to be accepted across the board. But a special provision of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty does allow for at least one third of the EU’s member states to trailblaze new laws among a smaller group of nations, using so-called “enhanced cooperation”. Even if only the small group of nations adopt the tax, its effect will be felt across Europe.
War on drugs
Google hosts the first of a series of online "Versus Debates" on the war on drugs. The territory of the argument is changing rapidly, with legalisation entering mainstream discussion – as part of an effort to curb gang violence, it has been proposed by Guatemala's president. The debate will be live online from 7pm tonight: