United Nations

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The page will automatically redirect to United Nations Research Briefings produced by the Commons Library, Lords Library and POST

Content published before December 2016

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on the United Nations (UN). 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.

Commons Briefing Papers

06.10.2016Selecting a new UN Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres is set to be the next UN Secretary General, the UN Security Council announced on 5 October 2016. This Library note explains about the process, the role and the criteria for selection, as well as describing the 2016 candidates.
19.05.2016Brexit and the UN Security Council
This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the competing arguments about the possible effects of leaving the EU on the UK's permanent membership of the UN Security Council. The UK is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Would leaving the EU strengthen the UK's position in the UN, have no direct effect, or result in a loss of legitimacy for the UN? What if it resulted in Scotland leaving the UK? Views differ; but the difficulty of amending the UN Charter makes any change to the permanent membership of the Security Council unlikely.
10.02.2016The UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK
The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is conducting an inquiry into the impact of the UK Government's policies on people with disabilities in relation to their human rights obligations. This briefing paper provides information on the Committee, details of the inquiry and an overview of the Government's policies in relation to people with disabilities.
01.12.2015Legal basis for UK military action in Syria
What is the legal significance of the November 2015 UN Security Council Resolution for the UK and other states using force in Iraq and/or Syria?
23.03.2015Civil war in South Sudan: a primer
South Sudan has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since December 2013. On one side is the government of President Salva Kiir Mayadit (Sudan People's Liberation Movement) and its' allies; on the other side is former Vice-President Riek Machar (Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition) and his backers. As some observers warned might happen at the time, the euphoria and optimism that attended South Sudan's independence in July 2011 has quickly been shattered. At least 2.5 million people currently face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. 1.5 million people have been internally displaced. An estimated 60,000 people have been killed. With the price of oil down and oil exports in decline, the country's economy is in a parlous condition. Peace talks have so far failed and observers now fear a return to all-out conflict.
21.11.2014The Arms Trade Treaty
A legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. It provides, for the first time, an international legal and regulatory framework for the arms trade based on respect for international law and human rights. The UK ratified the treaty on 2 April 2014. Primary legislation was not required for ratification but secondary legislation was amended and the UK's Consolidated Criteria, which are the basis upon which official decisions are made about whether to approve licence applications for arms exports, were updated. The treaty enters into force on 24 December 2014
03.10.2014International status of Palestine
Which countries have extended diplomatic recognition to Palestine? What is the status of Palestine at the United Nations?
02.07.2014The post-2015 development goals
This Note explores what kind of framework might replace the Millennium Development Goals upon their expiry in 2015. It assesses reaction to the 'zero draft' of 17 new goals published by the Open Working Group in June 2014.
20.03.2014Democratic Republic of Congo: a gathering momentum towards peace?
The Special Representative of UN Secretary-General on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Martin Kohler - who is also the head of the UN mission, MONUSCO - has claimed that there is a 'new momentum' behind efforts to stabilise the country. This note briefly surveys the DRC's current trajectory.
23.08.2013In brief: Mali - Ibrahim Boubacar Keita wins the presidential election
On 11 August Mali held the second round of its presidential election. The overwhelming winner with 77.6% of the vote was Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK). He beat Soumaila Cisse, who won 22.4% of the vote. IBK has a credible mandate and has pledged to push ahead with national reconciliation, tackle corruption and rebuild the country's collapsed economy. But many challenges lie ahead.

Lords Library Notes

09.09.2016Fragile States: Effects of Conflict
This Lords Library briefing provides information on fragile states and the effects of conflict, including information on widows.
27.05.2016Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill [HL]: Briefing for Lords Stages
This House of Lords Library briefing provides information in support of the House of Lords' consideration of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill [HL].
10.09.2015Treatment of LGBTI Citizens Worldwide
This Library Note has been written to support the House of Lords debate on the global treatment of LGBTI citizens.
10.09.2015Sustainable Development Goals: Parliamentary Perspectives
UN member states are expected to agree a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) at a high level summit in New York from 25 to 27 September 2015. This Library Note provides information on issues relating to the SDGs which have attracted parliamentary attention over recent months including the number of goals; universal health coverage; climate change; and implementation and monitoring.
16.06.2015The United Nations
This Library Note provides an overview of the structure and work of the United Nations, focusing on its key organs and on a selection of the subsidiary bodies and organisations which together make up the wider 'UN Family'.
05.12.2014Global Development Goals in 2015
On 11 December 2014, the House of Lords is scheduled to debate the following motion: 'that this House takes note of the case for establishing new global development goals in 2015'.


25.09.2015Deep Sea Mining
In March 2013, the Prime Minister said that deep-sea mining could be worth 40bn to the UK over the next 30 years. This briefing summarises the framework governing activity in international waters. It also describes the mineral deposit types being considered and the proposed extraction methods, potential environmental effects and mitigation options.
08.10.2014Short Lived Climate Pollutants
Short lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) include black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and ground level ozone. Although they have a shorter residence time in the atmosphere than CO2, from a few days to a few decades, they contribute to near term climate change. This POSTnote summarises options for mitigating SLCP concentrations and the benefits and challenges of doing so.

Early Day Motions

That this House welcomes the admission of Palestine to full membership of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
That this House notes the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's statement that non-communicable diseases (NCD) represent a `public health emergency in slow motion'; welcomes the decision ...
That this House registers its condemnation of Israel following the publication on 1 September of a United Nations report which declared that the death of nine people on a Turkish vessel, ...
That this House recalls the target set by President Obama last year of welcoming `a new member of the United Nations - an independent sovereign state of Palestine' by September 2011, ...
That this House welcomes the ongoing campaign initiated by Bangladeshis in the United Kingdom to have Bangla, which is the fifth most spoken language in the world, recognised as an ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses