• In Focus

    China: Allegations of human rights abuses

    The UK assesses China as a priority country for tackling human rights issues. The UK believes there is compelling evidence of widespread and systematic abuses of the human rights of the Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang province. The House of Commons passed a resolution describing this as genocide, but the UK government’s position is that only the courts can make such a determination.

  • In Focus

    Conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia

    On 2 November 2022, the African Union announced a peace agreement had been reached between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces. The truce followed nearly two years of intermittent fighting between the two, which has also drawn in troops from neighbouring Eritrea. A recent UN report concluded there were reasonable grounds to believe that extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence and starvation of the civilian population had been used as a method of warfare during the conflict.

  • In Focus

    Protests in Iran: Death of Mahsa Amini

    In recent weeks, Iran has seen widespread protests following allegations that the country’s morality police caused the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini. This briefing looks at how the protests have developed and the reaction of the Iranian authorities. It also considers how the international community, including the UK, has responded.

  • In Focus

    UK-China relations: International Relations and Defence Committee report

    The House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee published a report in 2021 calling for the government to produce a “single, coherent China strategy”. The committee report focused on the UK-China security and trade relationship. It concluded that a clear plan was needed on how to balance the UK’s ambition for increased economic engagement with China and the need to protect the UK’s national security and its values.

  • In Focus

    Tunisian constitutional referendum and reform

    On 25 June 2022, Tunisia voted in favour of a new constitution via a referendum. The vote was held a year after President Kais Saied dismissed the government, froze the legislature and assumed emergency powers. President Saied said the move was necessary due to economic circumstances and the Covid-19 pandemic. Opponents have criticised both the use of emergency powers and the referendum as representing a coup. The new constitution will increase the powers of the presidency and reduce the role of Tunisia’s Parliament.

  • In Focus

    Rwanda policy: Unaccompanied children and age assessments

    In April 2022, the UK government announced a scheme to relocate certain asylum seekers to Rwanda for asylum claims processing and potential resettlement. Concerns have since been raised about the risk of unaccompanied children being mistaken for adults and subsequently removed from the UK to Rwanda. This article considers this issue and also what the government is doing to improve age assessment procedures in the UK’s immigration system.

  • In Focus

    Impact of Ukrainian port blockade on food supply to developing countries

    Russian forces continue to blockade Ukrainian ports, preventing the export of grain and other foodstuffs. Food supplies from Ukraine and Russia are vital to many developing countries including many in the Horn and East of Africa, which are at significant risk of famine because of the blockade and other global pressures. The UK has joined other international actors in calling for the blockade to end and safe exports routes established.

  • In Focus

    China: Security challenges to the UK

    On 6 July 2022, the British and US intelligence services jointly said China would pose the biggest security threat facing the West over the next decade. Relations between China and the UK have deteriorated in recent years and experts have expressed concern over Chinese ambitions in several areas. This article provides a brief overview of recent UK-China relations and those security threats.

  • In Focus

    UK-Australia free trade agreement

    The UK-Australia free trade agreement is the first trade agreement that the UK has negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU. Whilst the government’s impact assessment suggests the economic benefit to the UK’s GDP is likely to be modest, the government has described the agreement as “historic”. The House of Lords International Agreements Committee has welcomed the agreement but has suggested that its scope had been traded off for achieving an agreement quickly.

  • In Focus

    Ukrainian refugees in the UK: Access to public services and employment

    This article sets out information on the support available to Ukrainian refugees in the UK, particularly regarding access to employment, education, healthcare and other public services. It has been prepared ahead of debate on the needs of Ukrainian mothers and children arriving in the UK. It also provides further reading on some of the challenges they face.