Diplomatic means can transform the smallness of a state into an asset when promoting national and international interests.
This course examines the manner in which small states conduct their diplomacy to pursue their foreign policy objectives, and to manage their participation in the global community of nations. The subject takes two aspects as starting premises: that diplomacy as practiced by small states is a subset of the basic themes and methods of diplomacy in general; and that small states, however defined, are necessary and active partners in the global community of nations.
By the end of this course, participants should be able to:
- Provide examples, and discuss the implications of different definitions of small states.
- Describe the role of small state diplomacy within the matrix of actions and interests which collectively determine a country’s foreign policy objectives.
- Identify and explain the economic constraints, security threats and environmental vulnerabilities which influence the definition and pursuit of a small state’s foreign policy goals, and the diplomatic methods available to address these.
- Describe the systems of multilateral and regional diplomacy, provide examples, and analyse tactics of groupings for the purpose of negotiation as well as alliances of interest and concern.
- Argue for and defend the important role of small states within the global community of nations.
Excerpt from course materials
…Vulnerability is a concept that is applicable in all aspects of small state diplomacy. However, while smallness always brings an element of vulnerability in its own right, this vulnerability also carries different connotations in different areas. In the area of security, it is often a relative concept. In the area of economic development, important elements of vulnerability lie in the linkages between smallness and remoteness, and in those between smallness and low levels of development.
In environmental concerns, size is the major element of vulnerability. On the one hand, environmental risks and natural disasters affect large and small states indiscriminately, and their effects on specific locations are the same, irrespective of location in a large or a small state. On the other hand, the ability of a state to recover from the effects of environmental risks and natural disasters is highly related to size (although level of development is also a factor)…
- Introduction to Diplomacy of Small States: We consider the role of small states as members of a set of principal, though not exclusive, actors in the international order. We look at qualitative and quantitative definitions of small states. We analyse the bases of foreign policy choices and diplomatic method, and consider the choices and methods available to small states in the areas of security, development and status building.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Small States: We look at how foreign ministries of small states conduct tasks arising from their primary responsibility to help implement the state’s foreign policy; tasks relating to information, representation, protection, and negotiation. We also consider two aspects of the structure of a small state foreign ministry: organisational set-up and human resource management.
- Security: We focus on the central concern of any state’s security, namely the safeguarding of territorial integrity, which is as vital to small states as to larger states. We analyse the various threats to a small state’s territorial integrity (actual, latent, or potential) and examine how the diplomatic process in addressing each is unique.
- Economic Diplomacy: We look at the economic openness to which small states are subject, the linkages between smallness and peripherality, and smallness and low level of development. We examine the resilience of small states to their economic vulnerabilities and the way these vulnerabilities affect their bilateral and multilateral economic diplomacy.
- Environmental Diplomacy: States must take both preventative and remedial action in the face of environmental risks and natural disasters. In environmental concerns, size is the major element of vulnerability. We look at actions being taken by small island states to meet the challenge of long-term effects of such phenomena as ozone depletion and climate change; then the impact of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis.
- Multilateral Diplomacy: We look at two separate roots of multilateral diplomacy: the regional process, with geographical proximity as the primary motivating factor, and the broader process resulting from a commonality of interests and concerns. We discuss the small state’s perception of the multilateral process and the assumptions behind this process. We then look at the institutional dimension, including the system of groupings under which different states position themselves for purposes of negotiation and voting.
- Regional Diplomacy: We first consider the factors at work in promoting regional diplomacy. We consider regional arrangements for peace and security, and the role of the UN regional commissions which deal with a broader spectrum of social, economic, and political issues. We then examine the role of small states in regional arrangements in America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Small States and Globalisation: From the perspective of a small state, we examine two aspects of globalisation that fall directly within the domain of diplomacy: the way globalisation affects the role and status of various actors in the international arena, and the way globalisation affects the manner in which states interact with each other.