International law

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on international law. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

20.10.2014UK-USA Mutual Defence Agreement
The Mutual Defence Agreement allows the US and UK to exchange nuclear materials, technology and information in order to improve their atomic weapon design, development and fabrication capabilities. The most important part of the MDA is due to expire at the end of 2014 and therefore an amendment treaty, which will extend this deadline to 2024, must be ratified by both States and brought into force by the end of this year.
10.06.2014Disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory: recent developments
Between 1968 and 1973 the British Government cleared the entire Chagos Archipelago of its inhabitants, opening the way for a US military base on the biggest island, Diego Garcia. The Archipelago was made a colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT - now an overseas territory). Two main disputes have arisen from these events. One has been between the Chagos Islanders and the British Government over the legality of the former's removal and whether they have a right to return. The other has been between the UK and Mauritius about sovereignty over the BIOT. The British Government has now commissioned a new study on the feasiblity of resettlement and some hope that this and other developments may open the way for progress on the sovereignty issue as well ahead of the UK 2015 general election.
05.03.2014Combating violence against women and girls around the world
As 8 March, International Women's Day, approaches, this note briefly surveys efforts to combat violence against women and girls around the world, focusing strongly on those that involve the UK.
19.02.2014The Central African Republic: a primer on the current crisis
President Francois Bozize was overthrown in March 2013 by a rebel coalition called Seleka, which then installed its leader, Michael Djotodia, as the new president. However, the country remained in turmoil and 'self-defence groups' opposed to Seleka, called Anti-Balaka, took up arms. By late 2013, senior UN officials were warning the conflict had turned into one between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority. They said there was a real danger of genocide. While not disputing the seriousness of the crisis, many experts caution against over-simplified narratives of 'Christian versus Muslim' and question claims of possible genocide. Despite the arrival of French and African peacekeepers and the resignation of Michael Djotodia - recently replaced by an interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, who heads an transitional government - violence continues in many parts of the country, with some now fearing de facto partition.
21.01.2014The Deep Sea Mining Bill 2013-14
Mrs Sheryll Murray MP came fourth in the ballot for Private Members' Bills and has introduced the Deep Sea Mining Bill 2013/14 which will receive its have its Report Stage on the 24 January 2014..

Research Papers

17.03.2014Ukraine, Crimea and Russia
In November 2013 the Ukrainian government decided not to sign a planned Association Agreement with the EU and demonstrations ensued in the capital Kiev. The 'Euromaidan' demonstrations turned violent in early 2014 and in February, some European foreign ministers mediated a compromise, involving a unity government and early elections.
01.07.2013Leaving the EU
The Treaty on European Union provides for a Member State to leave the EU, either on the basis of a negotiated withdrawal agreement or without one. If the UK were to leave the EU following a referendum, it is likely that the Government would negotiate an agreement with the EU, which would probably contain transitional arrangements as well as provide for the UK's long-term future relations with the EU. There is no precedent for such an agreement, but it would in all likelihood come at the end of complex and lengthy negotiations.
20.03.2009Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [HL] (Bill 69 of 2008-09)
This short Bill is intended to amend two UK Acts to enable the Government to ratify two international agreements protecting military medical personnel and humanitarian workers. In line with the protocols, the Bill would firstly sanction and protect the 'red crystal' as a new symbol to protect humanitarian personnel in armed conflict instead of (or in addition to) the existing red cross or red crescent; and secondly extend the definition of protected UN workers to include those delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance in peacebuilding operations and those delivering emergency humanitarian protection.
17.06.2008Reinventing humanitarian intervention: Two cheers for the Responsibility to Protect?
Reinventing humanitarian intervention: Two cheers for the Responsibility to Protect? House of Commons Library Research Paper 08/55.
22.07.2004Iraq:legal issues at the handover
Iraq: legal issues at the handover. House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/59.

Early Day Motions

That this House notes the amendment to the 1998 Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC) adopted on 12 June 2010 in Kampala defining the Crime of Aggression; further ...
That this House notes with grave concern that every year Israel prosecutes an average of 700 Palestinian children from the occupied West Bank in military courts; further notes that ...
That this House is appalled by the loss of life associated with Israel's attack on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza; notes that UK and other nationals have been ...
That this House notes the forthcoming meeting of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in May 2010 in Kampala to reach an international agreement ...
That this House opposes any proposed changes to UK legislation on universal jurisdiction that would compromise the UK's obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention to seek out and ...

Lords Library Notes

01.11.2013Debate on 7 November: The Armed Forces and Legal Challenge
This Note looks at some of the issues raised by legal challenges to the Armed Forces.
28.01.2013Antarctic Bill (HL Bill 76 of 2012-13)
The Antarctic Bill would implement Annex VI (the 'Liability Annex') to the Antarctic Treaty's Environmental Protocol and sets out measures to reduce risks of environmental emergencies in Antarctica. It would also make a number of changes to the Antarctic Act 1994 to give additional protection to the Antarctic environment. This Library Note provides background information in advance of the Bill's second reading in the House of Lords on 1 February 2013.
15.10.2012Debate on 18 October: Scott Expedition to Antarctica and Scientific Legacy
This Library Note provides background reading for the debate to be held on Thursday, 18 October: 'the centenary of the Scott Expedition to Antarctica and of the United Kingdom's enduring scientific legacy and ongoing presence there'.
19.03.2012Question for Short Debate on 26 March: Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army
This Library Note provides background information on steps to bring to trial Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army.
23.01.2009Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [HL]. LLN 2009/001
Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [HL]. House of Lords Library Note 2009/001

POST Papers

08.08.2014Alternative Currencies
This POSTnote outlines the different types and aims of these currencies. It also sets out how alternative currencies are being used and highlights regulatory and policy challenges regarding consumer protection, financial crime and taxation and benefits.
01.12.1990Proliferation control
This POSTnote reviews technical aspects relevant to improving international control over the spread of sophisticated weaponry. POSTnote 19. POST. 1990.


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - papers compiled by the House of Lords Library on Bills and for debates in the Lords
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses