• Research Briefing

    The 2015 UK National Security Strategy

    The Commons Library has published a briefing which provides an overview and analysis of the 2015 UK National Security Strategy (NSS). Published on 23 November 2015, the NSS is incorporated into a single document with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which sets out the specific policies and capabilities flowing from the strategy.

  • Research Briefing

    The Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda

    On 25 September UN Member States agreed 17 'Sustainable Development Goals' at an extraordinary Summit of the UN General Assembly. At various points during the negotiations, the UK Government expressed concern that 17 goals was too many. Debates continue over how far the goals embody a 'transformational agenda'.

  • Research Briefing

    Karenzi Karake and UK-Rwanda relations

    In June 2015, Karenzi Karake was arrested at Heathrow airport under a European Arrest Warrant issued by a Spanish judge in connection with war crimes allegedly committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front in Rwanda between 1990 and 2000. A full hearing in the Magistrates Court on whether he should be extradited to Spain to stand trial is expected in late October. The case has sparked much controversy and debate, including about the UK-Rwanda relationship.

  • Research Briefing

    Election in Israel

    A parliamentary election took place in Israel on 17 March 2015. No party won an overall majority, but Likud – the centre-right party of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – remained the largest party. This note provides a summary of developments.

  • Research Briefing

    Civil war in South Sudan: a primer

    South Sudan has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since December 2013. On one side is the government of President Salva Kiir Mayadit (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) and its’ allies; on the other side is former Vice-President Riek Machar (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition) and his backers. As some observers warned might happen at the time, the euphoria and optimism that attended South Sudan’s independence in July 2011 has quickly been shattered. At least 2.5 million people currently face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. 1.5 million people have been internally displaced. An estimated 60,000 people have been killed. With the price of oil down and oil exports in decline, the country’s economy is in a parlous condition. Peace talks have so far failed and observers now fear a return to all-out conflict.

  • Research Briefing

    Ethiopia: DFID ends support for the Promotion of Basic Services Programme

    On 26 February 2015, the Department for International Development (DFID) announced that it was reconfiguring important elements of its bilateral aid programme with Ethiopia. A key element of this reconfiguration is ending its support for the ‘Promotion of Basic Services Programme’ (PBS), a large multi-donor programme that also receives support from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. DFID’s announcement is striking in that it makes no reference to the controversy that has surrounded the PBS in recent years. Some have implicated it in the Ethiopian Government's 'villagisation programme', which has allegedly involved forced resettlement and human rights abuses. This briefing seeks to place DFID’s announcement in context.

  • Research Briefing

    Japan: Abe’s constitutional and security agenda

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (the LDP) won a decisive victory in snap elections held in December 2014. One of the reasons for holding early elections was Abe’s desire to amend Japan’s ‘peace Constitution’ so that in future it expressly permits the country’s armed forces to come to the aid of allies under attack. This is known in Japan as the right of ‘collective self-defence’. In mid- 2014 the Japanese Cabinet approved interpreting the Constitution in this way. Abe is now seeking to give this new interpretation legal and constitutional underpinning. Important as it is, amending Article 9 of the Constitution is just one part of Abe’s plans on the defence and security front. Japan is now looking to enhance its defence capabilities so that it can play a greater role in promoting international “peace, stability and prosperity”. It will also increase its ability to respond effectively to any attack on the Senkaku Islands (as Japan calls them) in the East China Sea.

  • Research Briefing

    India-Pakistan relations: January 2015 update

    India-Pakistan relations remain fraught with danger and mistrust. Since October 2014, there have been regular exchanges of fire between their troops across the ‘Line of Control’ which runs through contested Kashmir. Turbulent times could lie ahead.The two nuclear-armed governments accuse each other of responsibility for these skirmishes. The tenor of their exchanges has become increasingly hostile. There are also Indian claims that militant groups based on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control are seeking to infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir in larger numbers. Over recent months, there have been several battles between militants and security forces. Hopes that India and Pakistan could resume talks in earnest following the electoral victory of Narendra Modi in India last year have not yet been realised. He is currently acting like a man for whom a deal with Pakistan is desirable but not essential. His self-confidence may soon receive another boost. Political developments within Indian Jammu and Kashmir could produce a coalition government involving his party, the BJP – an outcome which few observers would have predicted until very recently. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government is keen to do a deal with India on Kashmir and other issues but cannot afford to look weak. He will be hoping that the PDP decides against joining up with the BJP in Indian Jammu and Kashmir. The more moderate Kashmiri separatist leaders will share the dismay of the Pakistan government if it does. However, the armed militant groups – whose influence and reach have waned in recent years – are likely to be delighted if the BJP shares power, as increased political polarisation could act as a recruiting-sergeant for them. Pakistan’s anxieties about the increasingly close US-India relationship have heightened recently. President Obama recently finished a three-day visit to India in which numerous deals were signed.

  • Research Briefing

    Political crisis in Bangladesh: January 2015 update

    The political scene in Bangladesh remains as turbulent as ever. Flawed elections in January 2014 were boycotted by the main opposition parties, leaving the field clear for the ruling Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina. There has been renewed protest action on the streets to mark the first anniversary of the elections, which has led to increased violence and at least ten deaths. Opposition leader Khaleda Zia was detained in her office for over two weeks by the authorities and faces trial for corruption. This briefing provides an overview of developments in the country since the 2014 elections.

  • Research Briefing

    Nigeria 2015: analysis of election issues and future prospects

    This paper looks at the multiple challenges facing Nigeria as it prepares for presidential and legislative elections on 14 February 2015. These elections will take place amidst an atmosphere of even greater crisis and uncertainty than usual. Boko Haram’s insurgency in the north of the country continues unabated. There are fears that the country might break up if the election aftermath is poorly handled. However, some observers remain remarkably hopeful about Nigeria’s future, predicting that its enormous economic potential is on the verge of being realised at last.