• Research Briefing

    Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 4 of 2023–24

    The Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill was announced as part of the King’s Speech in November 2023. It is a bill to enable the implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It will amend aspects of domestic legislation on technical trade barriers, government procurement and intellectual property to ensure the UK is compliant when the agreement comes into force.

  • In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Foreign affairs and defence

    This year’s King’s Speech will take place at a particular volatile time in global affairs. The crisis in Gaza, war in Ukraine, and the wider diplomatic challenges associated by the actions of nations such as China continue to occupy the international agenda. At the same time, the UK has reorientated its defence priorities to take account of the shifting global environment and the changing nature of global threats. This briefing examines a range of those issues before the King addresses Parliament on 7 November 2023.

  • In Focus

    Israel-Hamas conflict: Latest developments

    The current crisis in the Middle East began on 7 October 2023 when Hamas militants launched a series of surprise cross-border attacks on Israeli territory from Gaza, killing defence personnel and civilians and taking hostages. Since then, Israel has struck back with airstrikes on Gaza and has cut off supplies of food, energy and water to the enclave ahead of an anticipated ground invasion. This in turn has led to concern over civilian casualties and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Diplomatic efforts to prevent the crisis from worsening further are ongoing.

  • In Focus

    Western Balkans and the Dayton Peace Agreement

    The Western Balkans has a history of regional conflict, and democracy and political freedoms face challenges in many countries in the region. All Western Balkans countries have submitted bids to join the EU. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, leaders of the Bosnian Serb-majority area have in recent years undertaken actions to undermine institutions established as part of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which brought an end to the Bosnian war in 1995.

  • In Focus

    UK: Long-term strategic challenges posed by China

    The government has described China as an “epoch-defining and systemic challenge” to the UK. Its approach towards China is based on several factors, including shared economic interests, security concerns and human rights considerations. While some commentators have welcomed the government’s approach towards China, others have called on the government to take a tougher approach, such as designating China as a “threat” under national security legislation.

  • In Focus

    Current state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation

    The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is a multilateral institution, which deals with a wide range of security-related issues including conflict prevention, human rights and economic and environmental activities. It is described as a forum for political dialogue and joint action. Its decisions are not legally binding and are taken by consensus on a political basis. However, the war in Ukraine has raised questions over its future role.

  • In Focus

    Ukraine update: September 2023

    Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has now lasted for more than 560 days. The promised Ukrainian counteroffensive is underway and, despite recent gains, has made slower progress than Ukraine and its Western allies may have hoped. Some commentators have suggested that the operation may be crucial to the direction of the war and its eventual outcome. This briefing examines a range of issues including the status of the counteroffensive and Russia’s strategic moves as it seeks to combat the impact of Western sanctions.

  • In Focus

    The future UK-EU relationship: Report by the House of Lords European Affairs Committee

    Since the Windsor Framework was agreed in February 2023, the UK and the EU agree their relationship has been on a positive trajectory. In light of this, a recent House of Lords committee report made recommendations about further opportunities for UK-EU cooperation on foreign policy, defence and security, energy security, climate change and mobility of people.

  • In Focus

    Abraham Accords: UK government policy

    In September 2020, following US-sponsored talks, representatives from Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington DC. These comprised a declaration and bilateral agreements to normalise diplomatic relations, making the UAE and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab states to recognise Israel. Morocco later signed the accords, and Sudan signed the declaration. The UK government supports the accords.

  • In Focus

    Citizens’ rights after Brexit: Report and follow-up work of the House of Lords European Affairs Committee

    In July 2021 the House of Lords European Affairs Committee published a report examining citizens’ rights in the UK and EU after Brexit. The committee raised concerns about the European Union settlement scheme for EU citizens wishing to continue to reside in the UK, among other things. The committee wrote to the home secretary in 2023 asking further questions. This briefing looks at some of the issues raised in the report, the committee’s follow-up work and the government’s responses.

  • In Focus

    UK-China relations

    The relationship between the UK and China is complex and multifaceted. In recent decades the relationship has been shaped by events such as the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. Economic ties have also played a significant role in relations, with China being one of the UK’s largest trading partners. However, disagreements on issues such as human rights and governance in Hong Kong continue to strain relations.

  • In Focus

    International Widows’ Day

    On 23 June every year the UN marks International Widows’ Day. The aim of this day is to draw attention to challenges faced by widows around the world, including discrimination and economic exclusion. This article gives an overview of the day and issues affecting widows ahead of a House of Lords debate on the topic.

  • In Focus

    Size of the army: Numbers, tech and the latest on the integrated review

    In 2021, the government announced it would reduce the size of the army from 82,000 to 73,000 trained regulars. It also said the army would be modernised to take advantage of new technologies. This article looks at the current size of the army, the government’s 2021 integrated review and the findings of a recent inquiry on UK defence policy by the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee.

  • In Focus

    UK’s role in the world: Implications for foreign policy

    In March 2023, the government published a ‘refresh’ of the 2021 integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy. This reaffirmed the broad direction of the earlier review but set out an updated strategic framework to inform future policy and resource decisions. This article summarises the refresh and selected reaction to it, ahead of a House of Lords debate on the UK’s role in the world and foreign policy.

  • In Focus

    Impact of climate change on Commonwealth countries

    Developing countries have been identified as some of those most at risk from the effects of climate change. This includes many of the member states of the Commonwealth. The UK government has made a series of commitments to provide support to developing countries in order to mitigate these risks, including through aid spending and international climate finance. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate these policies on 30 March 2023.