December 2003: January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December – →
- Venezuelan opposition leaders claim to have gathered enough petition signatures to force a referendum to recall President Hugo Chávez; in response, the government alleges the four-day signature drive was tainted by "massive fraud".  
- The second trial of DeCSS releaser Jon Johansen begins. 
- The US dollar continues to decline, hitting a new low of 1.2 against the euro; the dollar is suffering from deteriorating support against the background of a large current account deficit and fears of growing protectionism. 
- Andrei Illarionov, economic advisor to President Vladimir Putin, indicates Russia will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol in its current form, a decision that would kill the accord. Some observers speculate that this is purely domestic posturing for forthcoming elections. 
- Mark Latham is elected to succeed Simon Crean as the new leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party, defeating former leader Kim Beazley by 47 votes to 45. In 2004 Latham will face Liberal Prime Minister John Howard at a general election. 
- The Israeli government has called on U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell not to meet with former ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority who have drawn up the unofficial Geneva plan. 
- US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wins the annual "Foot in Mouth Prize" awarded by the UK's Plain English Campaign for the most nonsensical remark made by a public figure. Among the runners-up are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chris Patten. 
- Hospitals around Paris struggle to cope with an outbreak of influenza and gastro-enteritis. 
- The European Union threatens retaliatory sanctions unless the United States lifts its threat of restrictions on imports of steel; the US measures have been declared illegal by the WTO. 
- Pirate copies of a pre-alpha version of Microsoft's Windows "Longhorn" operating system go on sale in Malaysia more than a year ahead of its expected release date. 
- GIMPS has confirmed that 220,996,011-1 is prime. At 6,320,430 decimal digits, it is easily the largest known prime number. 220,996,011-1 is the 40th known Mersenne prime and the sixth Mersenne prime discovered by GIMPS. 
- The Pentagon announces that U.S.-born illegal combatant and Taliban fighter Yaser Esam Hamdi will be allowed access to a lawyer after having been denied such counsel for two years. 
- Deng Pufang, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers and others are announced as the winners of the UN human rights prizes, which are awarded every five years.  
- Up to 50 employees of Australia's national postal service have been caught sending pornographic emails, including some involving children in sex acts, according to an investigation published by the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph. Two have been sacked, at least four have resigned, and dozens have been suspended pending further investigations. 
- In Kassel, Germany, the trial of Armin Meiwes begins. He is charged with killing and eating Bernd-Jürgen Brandes who was one of 200 people who replied to an Internet advertisement for "a well-built male prepared to be slaughtered and then consumed". The whole episode was videotaped. The case is legally difficult as cannibalism is not explicitly prohibited by the German penal code, and the defence argues that as the victim was willing, no murder took place. 
- The Russian government backtracks on statements made the previous day on the Kyoto Protocol, saying it is still considering ratification. 
- Two media figures are sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for fueling the 1994 Rwanda genocide; a third receives a 35-year prison term.  
- Politics of Canada: Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal, Canada's first Indo-Canadian cabinet minister, announces he is leaving politics. Dhaliwal intends to quit his ministerial post when incoming Prime Minister Paul Martin swears in a new cabinet on December 12, and has indicated he will not seek re-election in the anticipated 2004 election. 
- Devi Prasad Shetty married Shruthi Mahesh in Bangalore.
- In Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, police fire tear gas at hundreds of protesters who want France to withdraw its 3,800 peacekeepers so that the Christian and animist government of President Laurent Gbagbo in the south can march against Muslim rebel-held areas in the north. 
- The Parliament of New Zealand voted 68–52 to pass the Smokefree Environments Amendment Bill, introducing a progressive ban on smoking in all workplaces including offices, clubs, pubs, restaurants, airports, schools etc.
- Suicide bombers blow up a morning rush-hour commuter train in Russia's Northern Caucasus, on the border with Chechnya; at least 40 people are killed.  
- As part of a spending bill passed by the United States Congress this week, the University of California will have to compete for the management contract of all three of its national laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Los Alamos. Previously, it was expected that only Los Alamos would be up for bidding. 
- The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is opened in Abuja, Nigeria, by Queen Elizabeth II. The future of Zimbabwe's membership is threatening to dominate the gathering. The debate has been marked by bitter personal polemics between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whom Mugabe accuses of leading an "Anglo-Saxon conspiracy" against Zimbabwe. Mugabe himself is barred from entering the European Union. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth last year on charges that Mugabe had rigged his re-election in 2002. 
- Members of the Canadian Alliance vote 96% to 4% in favour of forming a union with the Progressive Conservative Party, called the Conservative Party of Canada. The Progressive Conservatives will vote tomorrow.  
- SCO v. IBM: in the opening discovery stages of the SCO v. IBM conflict, a judge grants IBM's two motions to compel against SCO, and defers consideration of SCO's motions until later.
- The 22nd SEA Games open in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This is the first time Vietnam has hosted the regional athletic event and the first time East Timor has sent a delegation. Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to top the medal tallies.  
- The draw for the qualifying stages of the 2006 Football World Cup is made. England, Wales and Northern Ireland are drawn together in group 6 of the Europe (UEFA) section, making the group three-quarters of a home nations championship – Scotland missed out by being drawn (amongst others) against Italy and Norway.
- The European Commission refuse to approve a controversial genetically modified sweet corn, thus de facto refusing to lift the moratorium on GMOs. See also Trade war over genetically modified food.
- The United States Congress passes the Can Spam Act of 2003. 
- King Harald V of Norway successfully undergoes a 5½-hour cancer operation in which his bladder is removed and a new one constructed, at Rikshospitalet University Hospital in Oslo. 
- German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries unveils a draft bill aimed at policing company accounts following the Enron and WorldCom scandals in the US. 
- South Dakota Congressman Bill Janklow is convicted of a series of criminal charges including second-degree manslaughter, which can carry a prison term of up to 10 years. He says he will resign his congressional seat. 
- The new Conservative Party of Canada, resulting from the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, is officially registered with Elections Canada. The party's first interim leader is John Lynch-Staunton, with a leadership race scheduled for March 2004. 
- In San Juan, Puerto Rico, four men are killed and a woman critically injured during a massacre in a discothèque. It is the largest massacre in Puerto Rico since 1988.  (in Spanish)
- British musician Ozzy Osbourne is seriously injured in an ATV accident. 
- 750,000 people crowd the streets of London to see the victory parade of the England rugby team following their victory in the Rugby Union World Cup. 
- Rubén González, the successful Cuban pianist, dies at home in Havana, at the age of 84. 
- Greek electronic game ban: The Greek government in an attempt to fight illegal gambling passes an old decision (1107414/1491/T. & E. F.) regarding the 3037/2002 law.
- Western leaders are criticised at the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva. 
- 2004 Taiwan Presidential Election: President Chen Shui-bian is officially nominated by his Democratic Progressive Party and picks Vice President Annette Lu as his running mate. 
- Campaign finance reform, passed as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, is upheld by a slim majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. , 
- Canada's BC Ferry system experiences a total shutdown due to job action by its union, after an 80-day cooling-off period, imposed by the provincial government, was not rescinded. 
- The Barron Report into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings in 1974 concludes that the Ulster Volunteer Force was responsible for the largest terrorist attack in the history of the Irish Troubles, which killed 33 people. It also concludes that some members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British military intelligence may have been involved in the attacks. The report strongly criticises the Irish National Coalition government (1973–77) for its handling of the crisis and criticises the United Kingdom for failures to offer assistance and information to track down the murderers. 
- Shirin Ebadi of Iran receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. In her acceptance speech she delivers heavy criticism against the War on Terrorism as an excuse for human rights violations. She also repeats her argument that discrimination against women in Muslim countries has no foundation in religion, but rather in culture.  
- Occupation of Iraq:
- Following electoral success in the Northwest Territories general election, 2003 Joe Handley is unopposed for election as premier of the Northwest Territories by the legislature. Two prospective opponents had chosen not to run against him. 
- Scott Brison becomes the fourth caucus member of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to leave the new Conservative Party of Canada, crossing the floor to the Liberals. 
- Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, issues a proclamation officially acknowledging the deportation of the Acadians, 248 years after it took place. The proclamation is delivered by Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, who is of Acadian descent. 
- A plot by militants linked to Al Qaeda to blow up the United Kingdom embassy in Yemen is foiled. 
- Germany announces plans to commemorate gay victims of the Nazi Holocaust, with a monument to be erected in central Berlin. 
- Queen Elizabeth II has a benign non-cancerous growth removed from her face. Buckingham Palace confirms the removed growths will be subject to further tests but denies there are any cancer fears surrounding the 77 year old sovereign. She also underwent a knee operation. 
- Canada's BC Ferry system returns to normal operations after the company and its union agree to commit to binding arbitration. 
- A European Union defence policy is agreed upon by Britain, France and Germany at the beginning of an EU summit in Brussels where the member countries will discuss a forthcoming constitution for the EU. Defence policy: ; EU constitution: .
- Paul Martin, Jr. is appointed Canada's 21st Prime Minister, and takes his oath of office along with his cabinet. Notable Ministers include Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan in Domestic Security, Ralph Goodale in Finance, Pierre Pettigrew in Health and Intergovernmental Affairs, Lucienne Robillard in Industry, Irwin Cotler in Justice, Bill Graham in Foreign Affairs and David Pratt in Defence. 
- Keiko (whale) from Warner Brothers movie's Free Willy dies at age 27, at Norway's bay
- In Haiti the biggest anti-government demonstrations in a decade take place, calling for the removal of President Aristide; after nightfall, squadrons of armed Aristide supporters take to the streets in response.  
- Mick Jagger is knighted. 
- According to a poll published in the Israeli daily Maariv, half of Israelis distrust their Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 
- Spanish filmmaker's Belén Funes and Marçal Cebrian felt in love.
- In the central province Bie, Angola, a land mine explodes and kills six Angolan staff of the international humanitarian organization, CARE. 
- The documentary Anatomy of t.A.T.u., aired on STS, reveals that the two women of the Russian band t.A.T.u. are not lesbians, among other revelations.
- Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, was captured in Tikrit by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division
- Saddam Hussein is captured and arrested by U.S. forces in Tikrit, Iraq.
- Spain has announced an agreement with Morocco to proceed with plans to build a rail tunnel beneath the Strait of Gibraltar, linking Europe and Africa. Assuming the project is technically and financially feasible, digging would start in 2008. , 
- At the EU summit, EU Commissioner Chris Patten describes the United States' method of awarding contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq as politically maladroit. 
- The European Union fails to reach agreement on a new constitution. 
- Operatic singer (tenor) Luciano Pavarotti marries his partner and producer Nicoletta Mantovani at a ceremony in Northern Italy. 
- California legislators approve Arnold Schwarzenegger's $15 billion bond issue.
- Chad's government signs a cease-fire with the rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) in Burkina Faso. 
- Wanderley Carlos Stringhini, retired partner of Ernst Young, dies at age 51, of suicide. During his life, he was partly responsible for the founding of Ernst Young offices in Curitiba, Blumenau, and Porto Alegre.
- Occupation of Iraq:
- Iraq's Civil Administrator L. Paul Bremer announces that Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces. Saddam was found approximately 15 km south of his home town of Tikrit at 2030 local time on December 13. Hussein was captured without resistance in a so-called "spider-hole" at a farmhouse in the town of ad-Dawr. He is in Coalition custody at an undisclosed location. At a press conference, Bremer presents video of Saddam in custody with a full beard, which is later shown removed. Bremer says that Saddam is in good health and is being "co-operative and talkative". He says that Saddam will "face justice" before an Iraqi court and under Iraqi law.    
- In an address to his nation, US president George W. Bush comments on the capture of Saddam, "Now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions." 
- British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomes the capture of Saddam, urging the Iraqi people "to reach out and to reconcile." Other world leaders offer similar sentiments: Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says that the arrest "will contribute to the strengthening of security in Iraq and to the process of political regulation in the country," while UN Secretary General Kofi Annan comments that Saddam's capture provides a chance "to give fresh impetus to the search for peace and stability in Iraq".  
- A car bomb explodes at a police station in Khaldiyah, 60 km west of Baghdad, killing at least 17 and wounding 30. 
- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf narrowly escapes a bombing. "The president's motorcade passed a minute before the blast", according to officials. 
- In an interview with The Washington Post newspaper, a 78-year-old African-American Los Angeles woman claims to be the illegitimate daughter of the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. 
- The famous Italian opera house La Fenice in Venice reopens after being destroyed by fire in 1996. It was rebuilt at the cost of €90mn.
- Jason White, quarterback of the University of Oklahoma Sooners, wins the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best player in college football. 
- Linux kernel 2.6.0 is released by Linus Torvalds.
- Capture of Saddam Hussein:
- Stephen Kenny, the first civilian lawyer to visit any of the former Afghan war suspects in Guantanamo Bay, describes it as a physical and moral black hole. He says prisoners are not treated equally and that there is a pecking order with Americans being treated best. (In fact there are no Americans being held at Guantanamo Bay.)  
- Occupation of Iraq: A fuel tanker explodes in downtown Baghdad, killing 10 and wounding 15. Initially believed to be caused by a bomb, officials later conclude that a traffic accident was responsible. 
- The head of the Greek terrorist group Revolutionary Organization 17 November and their chief hitman are jailed for life, along with four other members of the organisation. 
- Thomas Kean, chairman of the independent commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks, says that the attacks could have been prevented and that public officials were to blame for not anticipating and pre-empting the threat. The commission's report is due in May 2004.  
- Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr are convicted for their roles in the August 2002 murders of 10-year-old Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in the English village of Soham. 
- Taiwan reports the first confirmed SARS case in five months, a medical researcher who had studied the virus. 
- The United States National Weather Service warns of "excessive heat" after the Earth reportedly breaks out of its orbit and begins falling into the sun. Fortunately, it turns out to be a mistakenly published test message. 
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the final part of Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, goes on broad public release in the United States and much of Europe. Industry pundits predicted that it could have become the second film, after Titanic, to earn over US$1 billion at the box office. 
- Republic of Congo: A gunbattle breaks out in Brazzaville.
- Health: The UK government says that a case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease may have occurred through blood transfusion. 
- Former Governor of Illinois George H. Ryan is indicted on corruption charges for receiving payoffs, gifts and vacations in return for government contracts and leases while he served as the Governor and Secretary of State of Illinois. 
- Governor of Connecticut John G. Rowland announces that he will not resign, despite allegations of corruption involving the receipt of free modifications to a vacation cottage, and the indictments of several of his top aides. 
- Islam in France: the hidjab issue: President of France Jacques Chirac announces that he will support a ban on the wearing of Muslim headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses in schools and government offices. If passed, the law will come into effect in September 2004. Muslim clerics counter that the ban is an attack on their religion.  
- Space exploration:
- NASA announces that the new name for the "Space Infrared Telescope Facility" will be the Spitzer Space Telescope (after the late Dr. Lyman Spitzer, Jr.). This coincides with the release of the telescope's first images, which show the glowing stars of the Elephant's Trunk nebula, the dusty arms of the Messier 81 spiral galaxy, a disc of planet-forming debris, and organic material 3.25 billion light years away.   
- Legal status of suspected terrorists:
- Capture of Saddam Hussein: a Jordanian news source claims that Saddam Hussein was drugged and betrayed by his personal bodyguard, General Mohammed Ibrahim Omar al-Muslit, a member of his own family. 
- The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules to disqualify Spanish athlete Johann Mühlegg and Russian athlete Olga Danilova from all the cross-country skiing races they participated in during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and thus withdraw their medals, due to doping by darbepoetin. 
- Prosecutors in California charge singer Michael Jackson with seven counts of child molestation and schedule hearings for January 16, 2004. 
- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warns the Palestinian Authority that Israel will take unilateral steps to separate from the Palestinians unless there is progress on the road map peace plan and sets a deadline of "a few months" for Palestinian compliance. The speech is strongly criticised by the United States, the Israeli left, the Jewish settler movement and the Palestinians. 
- Red Hat, in its third quarter, buys Sistina Software. Red Hat expects that it will close the deal by early January for $31 million dollars. 
- Sudanese authorities close the Khartoum office of the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera and detain its bureau chief for questioning. 
- The Holy See announces plans to beatify the last Austro-Hungarian emperor Karl. Karl, who was overthrown in 1918 and died in exile in 1922, is expected to be beatified, a step to sainthood, in the next year. Karl's widow, Zita of Bourbon-Parma died in 1989. His son, former Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg was until recently a German MEP.  
- CCTV footage at Hampton Court Palace near London, once home of King Henry VIII of England, is released, and claimed to show a "ghost". The footage, taken in October 2003, shows a man in 16th century clothes closing a firedoor that had blown open. The palace markets itself as one of Britain's most haunted locations.  
- Celebrations marking the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase culminate in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
- Irish charity fundraiser John O'Shea attacks Manchester United football manager Sir Alex Ferguson as "greedy" for demanding £90,000 to attend a cancer charity function in Ireland in 1999. According to O'Shea, a sports celebrity demanding 'appearance money' from a charity is unheard of in his experience. Ferguson's appearance fee amounted to half the money raised. The fundraisers, until now unaware that Ferguson had taken half the proceeds, denounce his behaviour and say if they had known about it at the time they would have cancelled the event.
- Former Argentinian president Carlos Menem is charged with tax fraud for failing to declare a Swiss bank account containing $600,000. If convicted he could be debarred from public office. 
- The World Court says it will hear legal arguments about Israel's construction of a controversial barrier in the West Bank to separate Israeli and Palestinian areas. The hearings will begin on 23 February 2004. 
- Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar pays a surprise visit to Spanish troops in Iraq. 
- Massive landslides in the Philippines caused by heavy rain result in the deaths of up to 90 people. 
- A Malaysian opposition website is shut down by its British web-hosting company amid claims of "political censorship" from the opposition. 
- Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai tells his supporters to "fight fear" as they campaign against President Robert Mugabe. His comments follow the decision of Zimbabwe's police to occupy the offices of Zimbabwe's only privately owned newspaper in defiance of a court order that the newspaper could resume publication. 
- Eleven people, mainly young people from Germany, die in a bus crash in Belgium. 
- In Comoros, leaders signed an agreement clearing the way for legislative elections in April. 
- After getting FCC approval on December 19, News Corporation Ltd. completed a US$7.6 billion cash and stock deal to buy control of Hughes Electronics and its DirecTV satellite television division from General Motors. 
- The People's Republic of China plans to peg its currency, the yuan, to a basket of ten currencies instead of only the U.S. dollar, according to its state press. 
- Parmalat is likely to declare "controlled administration" as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the government would intervene and "above all save the industrial part of the company and jobs". 
- Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher is assaulted by Palestinians during prayer at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Mr. Maher was taken to an Israeli hospital for observation as a result of the incident after being treated at the scene by the Magen David Adom. After several hours care in the hospital, he was escorted to his airplane by an Israeli cardiologist and paramedic.  
- A list of people who have declined a British honour was leaked to The Sunday Times. The list includes David Bowie, David Hockney, Aldous Huxley, Nigella Lawson, and Harold Pinter. , , 
- The Gulf Cooperation Council announces that they will revise school textbooks and remove from them material describing followers of other religions as infidels and enemies of Islam. 
- SCO v. IBM:
- SCO claims in a press release to be sending DMCA notification letters alleging copyright infringement 
- Linus Torvalds says, in a post to the Linux kernel mailing list, "... I think we can totally _demolish_ the SCO claim that these 65 files were somehow "copied". They clearly are not." 
- Novell has also registered their claim to the copyright of original UNIX source code, effectively challenging SCO's registration of the same code  
- An earthquake strikes near San Simeon, California, at 19:15 UTC (11:15 PST). The quake registers a 6.5 magnitude on the Richter magnitude scale, and causes two deaths from the collapse of a building in the town of Paso Robles. ,
- The Philippines declares a calamity in a southern province after floods killed up to 209 people. 
- A powerful earthquake occurs near the southern Iranian city of Bam at 0156 GMT (5.26 am local time). The USGS estimates its magnitude as 6.7 on the Richter scale. The BBC reports that "70% of the modern city of Bam" is destroyed. Iranian government officials estimate the death toll at over 20,000 with a further 50,000 injured. Bam Citadel the largest adobe structure of the world is destroyed. The area of the citadel is about 180,000 square meters and the construction date of parts of it goes back for about 2500 years. 
- The death toll in the Chinese gas-leak rises to 191. 
- Fearing the state's BSE outbreak may extend beyond a single farm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantines a second cattle farm in Washington state.