• Research Briefing

    Parliamentary scrutiny of treaties: up to 2010

    Before 2010 the UK Parliament had no formal role in the ratification of treaties, which is a matter for the Government under the Royal Prerogative. There were however several ways in which treaties were scrutinised by Parliament before the Government ratified them, for example under the 'Ponsonby Rule'. There have been calls for Parliamentary scrutiny of treaties to be enhanced, including through creating a dedicated treaty scrutiny committee.

  • Research Briefing

    Property disputes in north Cyprus

    Property ownership is a major issue in the divided island of Cyprus, not just for Cypriots but for British and other people. Many thousands of people were displaced after the Turkish intervention in 1974, abandoning their property, and in the north much of this has been transferred to other people without the original owner's consent. The resulting disputes have not only thwarted progress in reunification talks but also resulted in a large number of court cases.

  • Research Briefing

    In brief: a closed window in Cyprus?

    The nationalist Dervis Eroglu won the April 2010 presidential elections in the 'Turkish Republic of North Cyprus' with just over 50% of the vote. Most commentators had argued that a win by Eroglu would close a window of opportunity for reunification, but peace talks have in fact resumed. Are these talks likely to bring progress, or is Eroglu really still in favour of a two-state solution?

  • Research Briefing

    Universal jurisdiction

    The UK has universal jurisdiction under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 (and other legislation) for a limited number of serious international crimes. It also has an obligation under international law to prosecute or extradite those suspected of war crimes or torture anywhere in the world. There are few such prosecutions in the UK but arrest warrants have been sought for private prosecutions. The Government is consulting on a change to the law on private prosecutions for universal jurisdiction offences, and the UN is conducting a review of the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction.

  • Research Briefing

    Cyprus: a political and economic overview

    Cyprus has been divided between the Greek community in the south and the Turkish community in the north since 1974. 2008 brought a renew sense of optimism to those eager for a reunification settlement, but this has now receded somewhat, with suggestions that a 'window of opportunity' may close in the spring of 2010. The economic situation - slowing in the south and already poor in the north - could be further damaged if there is no settlement deal.

  • Research Briefing

    Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. Bill 142 2008-09.

    This Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 20 July 2009. It followed the publication in July 2007 of the Governance of Britain Green Paper which set out a broad programme of constitutional reform. In March 2008 the Government published the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill and Constitutional Renewal White Paper. The draft Bill was scrutinised by a Joint Committee, with other committees reporting on aspects of the proposals. The content of the Bill is different from that of the draft Bill in some significant ways. As well as clauses on the civil service, the ratification of treaties, judicial appointments and protest around Parliament which were contained in the draft Bill, the Bill includes new provisions on the House of Lords, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the National Audit Office, Human Rights claims against the devolved administrations and the transparency of financial reporting to Parliament. Clauses on the Attorney General, which had been in the draft Bill, are not in the Bill as introduced.

  • Research Briefing

    Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill [HL] (Bill 86 of 2008-09).

    This paper is on the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill [HL] (Bill 86 of 2008-09). This Bill would deal firstly with the transfer of border customs functions to the new UK Border Agency. It would also introduce new naturalisation requirements and deal with various other citizenship issues. The Bill as it was introduced in the Lords would have provided for immigration control to be introduced on air and sea routes within the Common Travel Area but these provisions were defeated in the Lords. Originally the Bill would also have restricted the involvement of the higher courts in immigration and nationality cases, but a Lords amendment limited the scope of this restriction. The Bill would introduce a new duty on the UK Border Agency to safeguard the welfare of children and make provisions in relation to trafficking babies and children for exploitation.

  • Research Briefing

    Iceland’s financial crisis

    The global financial crisis has been tumultuous for Iceland. Until recently considered a rich, successful and competitive nation, Iceland suffered a dramatic collapse of its economy and currency following the collapse of its banking sector in October 2008. It was forced to negotiate a loan from the IMF and further financial support from a number of countries, and saw the fall of its government. The crisis has led to renewed suggestions that Iceland may apply to join the EU and adopt the euro. Following the Government's fall in January 2009, a caretaker Government took over in February and elections are expected on 25 April 2009. The major partner in the caretaker left-wing coalition, the Social Democratic Alliance, was a member of the previous administration and is strongly pro-EU, but its new partner, the Left Green Movement, has said it will continue to oppose EU membership.

  • Research Briefing

    Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [HL] (Bill 69 of 2008-09)

    This short Bill is intended to amend two UK Acts to enable the Government to ratify two international agreements protecting military medical personnel and humanitarian workers. In line with the protocols, the Bill would firstly sanction and protect the ‘red crystal’ as a new symbol to protect humanitarian personnel in armed conflict instead of (or in addition to) the existing red cross or red crescent; and secondly extend the definition of protected UN workers to include those delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance in peacebuilding operations and those delivering emergency humanitarian protection.