• Research Briefing

    The Treaty of Lisbon after the Second Irish Referdum

    In a referendum on 2 October 2009 the Republic of Ireland voted by 67.1% to 32.9% in favour of ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon, having voted against its ratification in June 2008. Politically, the second vote was predicated on concessions agreed by the European Council in December 2008 and confirmed in June 2009 as “guarantees” to be formalised in a protocol attached to the next accession treaty. The positive Irish vote was welcomed by the EU institutions and other Member States, but Poland and the Czech Republic still have not completed ratification. This paper looks at the background to the referendum and other ratification developments.

  • Research Briefing

    Iran: Conventional Military Capabilities

    This note examines the conventional military capabilities that Iran possesses, on the basis of publicly available information. It focuses specifically on Iran's ballistic missile programme which has received increasing attention in light of Iran's perceived nuclear ambitions and the recent changes to the US' missile defence proposals in Europe. It is not intended as a comprehensive assessment but a brief introduction to Iran's military capabilities. It also does not examine Iran's nuclear programme which is outlined in Library Standard Note SN/IA/4262, Iran's Nuclear Programme: An Overview.

  • Research Briefing

    Human rights in Iran: An introduction

    This note provides an introduction to the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It examines the overall political and legal framework in Iran as it relates to human rights and considers the human rights experiences of religious and ethnic minorities - groups like the Baha'is and Jews - and at the human rights situation relating to gender and sexuality.

  • Research Briefing

    Syria: An introduction

    This note provides an introduction to Syria, its politics, history, and international relations. It gives an overview of Syria's political system and examines the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, who won a second term of office on 29 May 2007. The note also considers Syria's human rights record. In addition, it examines Syria's relationships within the Middle East - with Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and Iran - and with the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Finally, it provides suggestions for further reading.

  • Research Briefing

    European Parliament Elections 2009

    Elections to the European Parliament were held across the 27 states of the European Union between 4 and 7 June 2009. The UK elections were held concurrently with the county council elections in England on 4 June. The UK now has 72 MEPs, down from 78 at the last election, distributed between 12 regions. The Conservatives won 25 seats, both UKIP and Labour 13 and the Liberal Democrats 11. The Green Party held their two seats, while the BNP won their first two seats in the European parliament. Labour lost five seats compared with the comparative pre-election position. The Conservatives won the popular vote overall, and every region in Great Britain except the North East, where Labour won, and Scotland, where the SNP won. UKIP won more votes than Labour. UK turnout was 34.5%. Across Europe, centre-right parties, whether in power or opposition, tended to perform better than those on the centre-left. The exact political balance of the new Parliament depends on the formation of Groups. The UK was not alone in seeing gains for far-right and nationalistic parties. Turnout across the EU was 43%. It was particularly low in some of the newer Member States. Part 1 of this paper presents the full results of the UK elections, including regional analysis and local-level data. Part 2 presents summary results of the results across the EU, together with country-level summaries based on data from official national sources.

  • 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.