The development of a successful vaccine was of central concern to governments around the world from the moment the coronavirus crisis began. When Russia’s Gamaleya Institute announced that their Sputnik V vaccine was ready for use in August 2020 — to great shock and derision — the Russian government made clear its intention that Sputnik would be a “vaccine for all mankind”. Yet, as the UK and her Western allies built their vaccine portfolios, Sputnik remained conspicuous by its absence. While information operations and wider geopolitical considerations were undoubtedly at play, this paper sets out the data and efficacy concerns that were central to explaining the lack of Western interest in the Sputnik jab.
Prisons play a significant role in the radicalisation of vulnerable individuals. Terrorists have used prisons as incubators to mobilise outside support and radicalise other prisoners in order to recreate operational command structures. Prisons can also play a positive role in tackling radicalisation and terrorism in society as a whole, however. This briefing offers an analysis of the ways in which prisons can aid the fight against terrorism by helping governments and policy-makers spot new ideas and avoid costly and counterproductive mistakes.
Recently, there have been calls for the UK to re-evaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia. These calls have been based on the idea that the UK is muting its human rights criticism due to the country’s importance as an ally and arms trading partner.
Amidst this criticism, the government has argued that human rights in the region are best promoted when security co-operation and economic interdependence with the Saudi Arabia are maintained. Others argue that human rights in the region would be better served through a more assertive strategy, and that the UK government is not genuinely concerned with human rights in the region.
Evidence suggests that the government’s strategy of engaging Saudi Arabia on security matters to export more ethical international norms is not working. Moreover, any professionalisation that is achieved through continued close cooperation is overshadowed completely by the UK’s continued support of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war in Yemen.
Our closest polar neighbour has more of an impact on us than we realise. In the aftermath of a harsh end of Winter in Britain because of Arctic winds, it is time to have a look at our relationship with the North.
For many years the Arctic has merely existed unchecked in the North, a looming and unnoticed region that largely does not get registered by the mind on a weekly basis. Yet this is foolish, as we have more stake in the Arctic than we believe, and more now than ever before.
This briefing attempts to initiate a discussion on how we can re-evaluate our relationship with the great white North. By examining some of the most important legacies and perspectives of the Arctic in history, as well as the current state the Arctic is in as we witness the Climate Change crisis worsening, we might seek to reconsider how we approach the region in future years and how our actions may impact our future livelihoods.
Since the outcome of the Brexit referendum was announced in 2016, multiple environmental charities and advocacy groups have expressed the concern about how the departure from the European Union will impact environmental policy.
As the government announces plans to release a new Environment Bill, it’s important to see where the strategy’s priorities lie. Ahead of the bill the author looks at the 25 Year Environment Plan report, released by the government at the beginning of 2018, and what their future policies may include following the UK’s eventual departure from the EU.
Brexit negotiations, thus far, have mostly focused on the triad of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill, but since September talks are underway concerning the future of the UK-EU defence and space relationship. This paper examines four of the most important institutions and cooperation agreements in defence and space, offering an assessment of their economic and political significance to the United Kingdom.
This paper finds that UK participation in the EU’s Common Security & Defence Policy (CSDP) is of low political and economic importance to the UK. Limited UK troop contributions in recent years, apart from the EU’s anti-piracy mission ATALANTA, are indicative of this low priority. Instead, post-Brexit military operations are more likely to align with NATO deployments rather than with CSDP missions. Joint UK-EU CSDP operations could, however, be feasible where the UK government’s national interests align with the EU27’s mission priorities.
Since the Brexit referendum, the EU has forged ahead in the field of collaborative European defence research and development (R&D) by launching a European Defence Fund (EDF). The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is equally aware of the need to support its defence industrial base, initiating a similar fund via its Defence Innovation Initiative. Post-Brexit, the UK government will be hard-pressed to justify politically contributions to such a new EU project. Hence, this suggests a preference for a national R&D programme under UK oversight.
In addition to the launch of the EDF, the EU is expected to strengthen the role of its defence agency which encourages defence procurement as well as pooling and sharing of defence equipment. However, since its inception, the EDA has at most been peripheral to UK procurement initiatives. Therefore, as the UK leaves the Union it is also expected to discontinue its European Defence Agency (EDA) membership. More likely, the UK will continue to strengthen its ongoing strategy to gain economies of scale for its industry through major export programmes to non-EU countries.
Finally, the UK is a major stakeholder in the European Space Agency (ESA) which itself is not an EU institution. However, the EU has commissioned and finances the agency’s two flagship programmes, the Galileo Satellite Navigation System and the Copernicus Earth Observation programme. Unlike the above EU programmes, Westminster and the UK space industry are cognisant of the high economic and political stakes here. Consequently, the ESA and its two satellite programmes are likely to feature prominently in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Overall, this paper’s findings suggest that the UK has relatively few political and economic ramifications from leaving the EU’s defence institutions in their current form. The exception to this would be the EU’s space programmes which support Britain’s aerospace technology sector. After Brexit, the UK-EU relationship might well be headed towards pragmatic and problem-centric cooperation in defence, based on ad-hoc coalitions to solve common issues. However, the sheer number of stakeholders and current political volatility in Westminster may affect the political-economic calculus, altering the outcome of future relationship talks.