• Research Briefing

    Progress towards nuclear disarmament?

    In April 2009 President Obama set out his vision for a world without nuclear weapons, and in doing so laid the groundwork for renewed international efforts to strengthen and advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Over the past year that momentum has translated into the agreement of a successor to the US-Russia START treaty, global commitments to secure highly vulnerable nuclear materials within four years and the establishment, at the May 2010 Review Conference, of an action plan in support of the three main pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This paper examines the prospects for achieving that vision of 'global zero'.

  • Research Briefing

    Sudan, 2003-09

    In order to make sense of Sudan's present and possible futures, it is vital to know something of its recent past. This is the purpose of this Standard Note, which provides a detailed account of events in Sudan, including their regional impact, between 2003 and 2009. It will not be updated.

  • Research Briefing

    Global Economic Crisis & developing countries

    This note was last published on 26 August 2009 and will not be updated. In the early stages of the financial crisis there were hopes that it would be largely contained within developed economies, with developing economies having 'decoupled' from them. These early hopes proved unfounded, with developing countries struck by declining trade, a loss of investor confidence and withdrawal of investment, a fall in the value of vital remittances, and much reduced growth and contraction in some cases. There are also fears that aid flows may suffer in the aftermath of the crisis. This note summarises key reports and statistics, with links to further resources.

  • Research Briefing

    Prospects for the 2010 NPT Review Conference

    The eighth Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference is due to take place between 3 and 28 May 2010. This note examines the main principles of the NPT as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime and the key issues regarding its continued effectiveness and credibility that are expected to be discussed at the conference. It also sets out the position of the British Government on these issues.

  • 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

    Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill: Committee Stage Report

    This is a report on the Committee Stage of the Bill. It complements Research Paper 10/17, prepared for the Commons Second Reading of the Bill. The Bill seeks to limit the amount that can be recovered by any commercial creditor of those countries designated as having unsustainable external debts. It would restrict the activities of so-called 'vulture funds', which buy developing countries' sovereign debt at discounted prices, then seek to recover its value in full through the courts. It would limit successful claims to an internationally agreed level and apply equally to all commercial creditors. At Committee Stage, a new 'sunset clause' was added. The proposed legislation would now expire after one year unless renewed for a further year or made permanent by order.

  • Research Briefing

    Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill [Bill 17 of 2009-10]

    The Bill seeks to limit the amount that can be recovered by any commercial creditor of those countries designated as having unsustainable external debts. The legislation would restrict the activities of so-called 'vulture funds', which buy developing countries' sovereign debt at discounted prices, then seek to recover its value in full through the courts. It would limit successful claims to an internationally agreed level and apply equally to all commercial creditors. It would cover the 40 countries in the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Debts incurred after the Bill's entry into force would be excluded.

  • Research Briefing

    Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill (HL)

    The main purpose of the Bill is to create criminal offences in order to enforce the prohibitions set out in Article 1 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions on the grounds that they cause unacceptable harm to civilians, and establishes measures to minimise the harm to civilians in the aftermath of conflicts. Ninety-four states, including the UK, signed, and four states ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. Once the Bill has passed into law, the UK will then move to ratify the Convention, which has been ratified by 30 states, and will come into force on 1 August 2010. The Government has announced that it intends to destroy all cluster munition stockpiles by the end of 2013. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have given their full support to the Bill.