• 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.

  • In Focus

    Antarctic Treaty: impact and relevance today

    The Antarctic Treaty is a framework for peaceful coexistence and scientific cooperation in the continent. It was ratified in 1961 by the 12 countries active in Antarctica at the time. 60 years since its ratification, the number of parties to the Antarctic Treaty has increased. However, the challenges facing the continent have also grown, including the threat of climate change to the continent’s ice sheet and the impact of tourism on local flora and fauna.

  • In Focus

    Interim trade partnership agreement with Ghana

    The UK has signed a new interim trade partnership agreement with Ghana, replacing the trade arrangements that were in place when the UK was a member of the European Union. The terms of the interim agreement largely replicate those previous arrangements but with some notable differences. Concerns have been raised over the timing of the interim agreement, the level of scrutiny it has received to date, and other issues including the potential impact on trade with and between other west African nations.

  • In Focus

    Importance of foreign aid programme

    Aid spending is targeted at improving the lives of people around the world. This includes tackling global diseases, humanitarian assistance, eliminating poverty, reducing the impact of climate change and making progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, many believe aid spending improves the global standing of the UK and builds better trade links. The Government has recently been criticised for announcing a reduction in aid spending.

  • In Focus

    Reduction in the UK’s 0.7 percent ODA target

    In the 2020 spending review, the Government cut aid spending from a target of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5%. Ministers said the UK would spend £10 billion on overseas development assistance (ODA) in 2021–22, this compares with £14.5 billion in 2020. The decision has been controversial, with several politicians and aid organisations expressing concerns about the impact of the reduction.

  • In Focus

    Magnitsky sanctions

    ‘Magnitsky’ sanctions target those responsible for human rights violations or corruption. The UK established a global human rights sanctions regime in 2020 and a global anti-corruption sanction regime this year, using powers in the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.

  • In Focus

    United Nations Peacebuilding Fund

    The United Nations Peacebuilding Fund is a financial instrument used by the United Nations (UN) to intervene or sustain peace in areas either in or at risk of conflict. This article details the financial support given by the UK Government to the fund and to other peacebuilding organisations.