Human rights

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on human rights. 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

05.02.2015Communications Data: The 2012 draft Bill and recent developments
The draft Communications Data Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech in 2012 and published on 14 June 2012. The Bill was subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and some aspects of the Government's proposals were criticised. The Bill, frequently referred to by critics as a 'snooper's charter', was not taken forward in the 2012-13 session. New Government proposals on cybercrime were foreshadowed in the 2013 Queen's Speech, but these appeared more limited than the plans set out in the draft Bill.
29.01.2015India-Pakistan relations: January 2015 update
India-Pakistan relations remain fraught with danger and mistrust. Since October 2014, there have been regular exchanges of fire between their troops across the 'Line of Control' which runs through contested Kashmir. Turbulent times could lie ahead.The two nuclear-armed governments accuse each other of responsibility for these skirmishes. The tenor of their exchanges has become increasingly hostile. There are also Indian claims that militant groups based on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control are seeking to infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir in larger numbers. Over recent months, there have been several battles between militants and security forces. Hopes that India and Pakistan could resume talks in earnest following the electoral victory of Narendra Modi in India last year have not yet been realised. He is currently acting like a man for whom a deal with Pakistan is desirable but not essential. His self-confidence may soon receive another boost. Political developments within Indian Jammu and Kashmir could produce a coalition government involving his party, the BJP - an outcome which few observers would have predicted until very recently. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government is keen to do a deal with India on Kashmir and other issues but cannot afford to look weak. He will be hoping that the PDP decides against joining up with the BJP in Indian Jammu and Kashmir. The more moderate Kashmiri separatist leaders will share the dismay of the Pakistan government if it does. However, the armed militant groups - whose influence and reach have waned in recent years - are likely to be delighted if the BJP shares power, as increased political polarisation could act as a recruiting-sergeant for them. Pakistan's anxieties about the increasingly close US-India relationship have heightened recently. President Obama recently finished a three-day visit to India in which numerous deals were signed.
21.01.2015Political crisis in Bangladesh: January 2015 update
The political scene in Bangladesh remains as turbulent as ever. Flawed elections in January 2014 were boycotted by the main opposition parties, leaving the field clear for the ruling Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina. There has been renewed protest action on the streets to mark the first anniversary of the elections, which has led to increased violence and at least ten deaths. Opposition leader Khaleda Zia was detained in her office for over two weeks by the authorities and faces trial for corruption. This briefing provides an overview of developments in the country since the 2014 elections.
18.12.2014Bahrain and the UK: 2014 controversies
The UK's political and security relationship with Bahrain is disputed even though the protests that began in 2011 are subsiding. This briefing summarises the controversies
04.12.2014Protocol No.15 to the European Convention on Human Rights: subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation
This note looks briefly at the Brighton reform conference in 2012 and reforms implemented before and since. It considers two of the reforms in Protocol 15 that the UK Government particularly wanted, in the light of the European Court of Human Rights judgments in Hirst and Abu Qatada, concerning subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation.

Research Papers

19.01.2015Nigeria 2015: analysis of election issues and future prospects
This paper looks at the multiple challenges facing Nigeria as it prepares for presidential and legislative elections on 14 February 2015. These elections will take place amidst an atmosphere of even greater crisis and uncertainty than usual. Boko Haram's insurgency in the north of the country continues unabated. There are fears that the country might break up if the election aftermath is poorly handled. However, some observers remain remarkably hopeful about Nigeria's future, predicting that its enormous economic potential is on the verge of being realised at last.
19.03.2014Prospects for Afghanistan as ISAF withdrawal approaches
2014 is a pivotal year for Afghanistan, with a crucial presidential election in April and the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission in December. Security overall is deteriorating in Afghanistan and although the Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead, questions remain about their effectiveness and the government's dependence on international help to pay for them. It is unclear whether there will be any Western military presence after 2014. Negotiations with the Taliban do not seem to offer much hope.
26.02.2013Justice and Security Bill [HL] Committee Stage Report
This paper has been produced following the Committee Stage of the Justice and Security Bill in the House of Commons, which took place between 29 January and 7 February 2013. The Bill, which has proved contentious, was originally introduced in the House of Lords on 28 May 2012. It is aimed at modernising and strengthening the oversight of the intelligence and security services and would allow the civil courts to use 'closed material procedures' to hear sensitive evidence in cases that raised national security concerns. It would also preclude the courts from ordering the disclosure of sensitive information in certain circumstances. The Bill was revised significantly in the Lords and was introduced in the House of Commons on 28 November 2012. Second Reading took place on 18 December 2012. A number of noteworthy and controversial amendments were made to the Bill in Committee.
31.01.2013European Union (Approvals) Bill
The European Union (Approvals) Bill (HC Bill 121) aims to approve two draft EU Council decisions and one draft decision of the European Council (the EU Heads of State and Government).
06.12.2012Pakistan in 2013
2013 will be another important year for Pakistan. Federal and provincial elections will be held during the first half of the year. If, as seems increasingly likely, the Pakistan People's Party-led Government sees out its full term in office and hands over to a civilian successor, it will be the first time in Pakistan's history that this has happened. But the political and economic situation remains highly volatile and unpredictable.

Select Committee Reports

01.10.2011Legislative scrutiny: Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill - government response to the...
Government response. Home Office report [Commons]
14.09.2011FCO's human rights work 2010-11.
Government response. Foreign and Commonwealth Office report [Commons]
06.09.2011Terrorism Act 2000 (Remedial) Order 2011: stop and search without reasonable suspicion (second report)....
Human Rights Joint Select Committee report [Commons and Lords]
11.06.2011Legislative scrutiny: Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill; Armed Forces Bill.
Human Rights Joint Select Committee report [Commons and Lords]
07.06.2011Legislative scrutiny: Education Bill and other bills.
Human Rights Joint Select Committee report [Commons and Lords]

Early Day Motions

That this House strongly condemns the Chinese security forces' unwarranted use of force including opening fire on unarmed demonstrators to quash peaceful protests in Tibet; is greatly ...
That this House supports International Women's Day on 8 March 2012; celebrates the political, social and economic advancement of women while recognising the urgent need for further ...
11.01.2012HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN (No. 2)
That this House is concerned by the practice of execution by stoning in Iran; notes that stoning is a particularly repugnant and cruel form of execution; is concerned that stoning is ...
That this House is deeply concerned at reports of the killing of oil workers in Kazakhstan who have been protesting about their living conditions and the poverty of their region; condemns ...
That this House notes that on 11 January 2012 it will be a decade since the first detainees were incarcerated at Guantnamo Bay naval base; believes that Guantnamo detainees should either ...

Lords Library Notes

21.07.2014Debate on 24 July 2014: International Compliance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Concerning Freedom of Belief
This Library Note provides background reading for the debate. It briefly examines Article 18's status in international law, its role in promoting freedom of belief, and then presents sources which examine freedom of religion around the world.
19.11.2013Debate on 21 November: Her Majesty's Government's Policy Towards Countries Responsible for Violations of Human Rights
This Library Note provides background reading for the debate to be held on Thursday, 21 November to take note of Her Majesty's Government's policy towards countries responsible for violations of human rights.
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.
24.06.2013Debate on 27 June: the Challenges Faced by Women in Developing Countries
This Library Note focuses on the challenges faced by women in the developing world, and the action which is being taken by the UK Government, international governments and multilateral aid organisations to address these challenges. It briefly considers the significance of gender within the field of international development, and goes on to summarise some of the key research and statistics on the position of women in the developing world, focusing on four areas: education, employment, health, and violence against women.
17.06.2013Debate on 20 June: Report of the Commission on a Bill of Rights
This Library Note contains a brief summary of the development of human rights law in the United Kingdom and previous proposals for a British Bill of Rights, before précising a selection of the findings of the report of the Commission on a Bill of Rights. The Note concludes with an overview of some of the responses to the report.
19.11.2012Debate on 22 November: Successor Framework to the Millennium Development Goals
This Library Note provides background reading on the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals.

POST Papers

22.07.2014Big Data and Public Health
This POSTnote examines the sources of data, their current and potential uses for health improvement, and the legal and practical issues raised by data use for public health or research purposes.


  • 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