‘Defence in a Competitive Age’ and threats facing the UK

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) published the command paper ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’ on 22 March 2021, setting out how the UK’s defence capabilities will support the Government’s integrated review of security, defence, development, and foreign policy. The command paper contained a range of measures, including how the UK will respond to current and future threats. This article summarises those provisions ahead of a forthcoming debate in the House of Lords on these issues.

‘Defence in a Competitive Age’ and threats facing the UK

Covid-19: impact in Latin America

Latin America accounts for over a fifth of all cases and almost a third of all deaths from Covid-19 worldwide. Vaccine rollouts are progressing across the region, but rates remain uneven. The economic toll of the pandemic has been severe, with recovery expected to take some time in many countries. This article provides a short summary of developments in the region arising from the pandemic ahead of a House of Lords debate on the subject.

Covid-19: impact in Latin America
  • In Focus

    Covert human intelligence sources: criminal conduct

    Covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) have been used for decades to prevent or secure prosecutions for serious crimes, such as terrorism and human trafficking. The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021 provided statutory powers to organisations, such as the intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies, to authorise criminal activity by CHIS. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Criminal Conduct Authorisations) (Amendment) Order 2021 makes some necessary changes to existing legislation.

  • In Focus

    Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy: Future of the Royal Marines

    The UK Government has announced substantial reforms of the armed services as part of the recent integrated review of defence and security policy, and an associated defence command paper, both published earlier this year. The reforms have significant implications across the services, including for the Royal Marines and the ongoing development of the Future Commando Force.

  • In Focus

    UK Government policy on Iran: the Iran nuclear deal and dual nationals

    The UK’s relationship with Iran has been under pressure from several significant issues, including trying to restore the Iran nuclear deal and Iran’s detention of British-Iranian dual nationals. The Iran nuclear deal was designed to limit Iran’s non-civilian nuclear development in return for sanctions relief. The agreement has been strained since the US withdrew in 2018 and Iran started to breach it. This briefing looks at the UK Government’s policy on these two issues.

  • Research Briefing

    Armed Forces Bill: Briefing for Lords stages

    The bill would extend parliamentary consent for the armed forces for a further five years, along with other provisions. This briefing considers: the background to the bill; what it would do and what happened during its passage through the House of Commons.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19 vaccinations: is the Global South falling behind?

    A number of vaccines have been produced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, currently high-income countries are dominating the purchasing and administration of these vaccines. This has led to low vaccination rates in the ‘Global South’: only 1.4% of people in low-income countries had received a dose as of 23 August 2021. This article explores the scale of the vaccine divide, its causes, and what is being done to address it.

  • In Focus

    Timeline of Taliban offensive in Afghanistan

    Following the recent withdrawal of US and coalition forces, the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan. It now holds all the key cities including the capital, Kabul. Some parts of the country were taken by force, whilst others saw the Afghan National Army withdraw. The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, has reportedly fled the country.

  • In Focus

    Human rights of LGBT+ people worldwide

    Equality in human rights for LGBT+ people varies globally. Many are vulnerable to violations, including violent attacks and social isolation. The United Nations (UN) has repeatedly confirmed that discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics is contrary to international human rights law. Despite this, over 70 countries worldwide criminalise adult same-sex relationships. The UK Government commits funds to targeted international LGBT+ rights programmes. However, it has recently faced criticism for its New Plan for Immigration.

  • In Focus

    The UK’s relationship with sub-Saharan Africa

    In a report published in July 2020, the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee argued that the UK should seek a stronger partnership with sub-Saharan Africa. It made a number of recommendations, including that the UK should set out a list of clear priorities for engagement with the region. Since the publication of the report and the Government’s response, there have been developments across several policy areas.

  • In Focus

    Overseas aid: the 0.7% target

    Between 2013 and 2020, the UK met an international target to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on overseas aid. A 2015 act enshrined this in legislation. In response to the economic impact of coronavirus, the Government has said that aid spending will temporarily reduce to 0.5% of GNI from 2021. Some commentators have argued this requires further primary legislation. The Government has announced the tests that must be met to restore spending to 0.7%.

  • In Focus

    Belarus presidential elections

    The Belarusian presidential elections on 9 August 2020 saw President Lukashenko re-elected based on official results. However, media organisations have widely reported that the elections were not free or fair. The UK Government has described Mr Lukashenko’s subsequent inauguration as fraudulent. The election result has led to protests and allegations of human rights abuses in the country.

  • In Focus

    Human rights concerns in India

    For several years, concerns have been raised by international governments and human rights organisations about alleged human rights violations in India. Concerns include the protection of religious minorities in the country. India has disputed the allegations, reiterating its commitment to human rights. This article looks at some of those incidences, as well as concerns raised by human rights organisations.

  • In Focus

    Cadet forces: funding and social impact

    The cadet forces are voluntary youth organisations that are based on the traditions of the armed forces but are not part of them. The Government says they offer “challenging and enjoyable activities”. They receive some government funding. Independent analysis suggests that they provide benefits both for participants and wider society. An ongoing government scheme aims to increase the number of cadet units in state schools.

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