• Research Briefing

    War and peace in Sri Lanka

    This paper provides a brief historical and social survey of Sri Lanka, including the origins of the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. It then gives an account of developments since 2002, when a ceasefire was agreed and hopes were raised – rapidly to be dashed – that there might be a peaceful negotiated resolution of the conflict. The paper also surveys the stance taken by the international community on the conflict, the military capabilities of the Sri Lankan military, and aid and development issues. It concludes by considering Sri Lanka’s future prospects, including assessing how real the Government’s military victory is and whether genuine political and constitutional reforms are likely to be introduced.

  • Research Briefing

    Iranian presidential elections 2009

    This note provides an overview of the forthcoming presidential elections in Iran. It outlines the main candidates and their platforms, analyses the campaign, assesses the fairness of the elections, and discusses their political and constitutional significance within the context of Iran's broader political system.

  • Research Briefing

    Baha’is in Iran

    This note provides background information on the detention of seven leaders of the Baha'i faith who have been imprisoned in Iran since March and May 2008. It also considers the international responses to their imprisonment.

  • Research Briefing

    Electoral performance of the British National Party in the UK

    This note provides data on the electoral performance of the UK's British National Party (BNP) in local and parliamentary elections. This note has been updated to include results from the local elections held in England on 1 May 2008. It also comments upon results from various elections up to 2006, as well as overall results from the 2007 and 2008 local elections.

  • Research Briefing

    Heroes Return 2 Scheme

    The Heroes Return 2 Scheme was launched by the Big Lottery Fund on 1 April 2009. Under this scheme funding will be provided for veterans, spouses, widows and carers wishing to return to those places where they fought during the Second World War and mark any relevant anniversaries in 2009 and 2010. This note sets out the principles of the scheme, eligibility and how to apply for funding.

  • Research Briefing

    Russia’s Military Posture

    This paper examines Russia’s current military posture. It does not attempt to be a comprehensive examination of every aspect of Russian military policy but is intended as an introduction to some of the more pertinent aspects, including Russia’s military capabilities, its ability to defend its increasingly diverse strategic interests and the credibility of Russia’s modernisation and rearmament programme which was announced toward the end of 2008.

  • Research Briefing

    Russia and the West

    A year on from Dmitry Medvedev’s succession to the Kremlin, this paper analyses the evolution of Russian foreign policy under both Putin and Medvedev. It seeks to identify the main themes, interests, and objectives of Russian foreign policy, and to appraise the role of President Medvedev in the direction of Russian diplomacy and his relationship with Prime Minister Putin. In so doing, it examines, in detail, Russia’s relationship with the United States, NATO, the EU, and the UK and analyses the role of energy in relations between Russia and the West. Finally, it looks ahead at the prospects for the relationship in light of President Obama’s declared intention to press the “reset” button in US-Russian relations.

  • Research Briefing

    Photographing the police

    There have recently been a number of concerns expressed about the ability of the public and press to take photographs of the police. The issue has been highlighted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and British Press Photographers' Association (BPPA), following the introduction of certain provisions contained in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

  • 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.