1st Edition

Agency, Security and Governance of Small States A Global Perspective

Edited By Thomas Kolnberger, Harlan Koff Copyright 2024
    298 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Agency, Security and Governance of Small States examines what seems to be a defining paradox of Small-State Studies: the simultaneous coexistence (and possible co-dependence) of vulnerability and opportunity related to small-state size.

    This book analyses small states within the framework of this apparent paradox. Traditionally, Small-State Studies has focused on three guiding questions: what constitutes a ‘small state’? What explains small-state influence in global affairs? Are small states truly vulnerable to security threats given the expansion of multilateralism and regionalism throughout the world? This book contends that new questions should be asked which recognise the important shifts in twenty-first century security paradigms, to better understand how some states deploy their smallness as a resource for agency in supranational contexts. By varying historical, geographical, security, and governance contexts, the book embraces a most-different-cases approach. The historical perspective is often neglected in Small-State Studies but contributes to understanding how small states have often, over time, transformed perceived insecurity into agency. By focusing on different world regions, the authors enable the comparative analysis of collective actions, and the creation and implementation of institutions for ‘common sense purposes’ within a geographical region. Of particular contemporary importance, the book includes contributions which contend with hard-security issues alongside other soft-security challenges. The comparison of case studies confirms that hard-security vulnerability and soft-security opportunities seem to be two sides of the same coin, which reinforces the book’s focus on small-state paradoxes, and raises the question of whether smallness can be considered the defining characteristic of governance in these countries.

    This book will have a broad appeal because of the different world regions it analyses. It will be of interest to postgraduate students, scholars, and researchers of international relations, security, sustainability, governance, development, and political economy, as well as Small-State Studies.

    The Chapters 4, 8 and 11 of this book are freely available as downloadable Open Access PDFs at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license. The publication of Chapter 4 as Open Access has been made possible by the Institute of History at the University of Luxembourg. The publication of Chapter 8 as Open Access has been made possible by Western Sydney University. The publication of Chapter 11 as Open Access has been made possible by the University of Hamburg.

    Introduction: agency, security, and governance of small states in a fast-changing world

    Harlan Koff and Thomas Kolnberger

    Part I – Small-State theory: reviewing the state of the art, communis opinio, and beyond

    1. The power (politics) of the weak revisited: realism and the study of small-state foreign policy

    Revecca Pedi and Anders Wivel

    2. A theory of shelter: small-state behaviour in international relations

    Baldur Thorhallsson and Sverrir Steinsson

    3. The graded agency of small states

    Iver B. Neumann

    Part II – Agency: the art of being governed by one’s own interests

    4. Forever small? A longue durée perspective on Luxembourg’s extantism, governance, and security

    Thomas Kolnberger

    5. Security in the Spanish Philippines (1565–1821): shelter-seeking and securitisation in an Early Modern colony

    Eberhard Crailsheim

    6. Negotiating smallness in three regional contexts: Belize within Central America, the Caribbean, and neighbouring Mexico

    Edith Kauffer

    7. What is small-state security policy? ‘Transpolitical propagation’ in the case of Luxembourg, Singapore, and Lithuania

    Antony Dabila and Thibault Fouillet

    Part III – Security: defining and engaging threats

    8. Small states in the Pacific: sovereignty, vulnerability, and regionalism

    Charles Hawksley and Nichole Georgeou

    9. Security and securitisation in the Pacific Islands: from great-power competition to climate change and back again

    Salā George Carter and Jack Corbett

    10. Cape Verde and the defence and security challenges in the Atlantic corridor: the case of the approach to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

    Odair Barros-Varela

    11. “Let’s forget that Slovakia is small”: GLOBSEC, status-seeking, and agency in informal elite networks

    Alexander Graef

    Part IV – Governance: interactions between domestic and international norms, rules, and action

    12. The rise of ‘democracy’ in Luxembourg’s Second World War government in exile: agency and leadership at a critical juncture of Luxembourg’s small-state foreign policy

    André Linden

    13. Between formal and informal democracy: how the domestic politics of small states infl uence their security policies

    Wouter Veenendaal

    14. African Small Island Developing States (ASIDS) and good international citizenship

    Suzanne E. Graham and Marcel F. Nagar

    Conclusion: insecurity of their own making? A comparative policy coherence for sustainable development analysis of small-state governance

    Harlan Koff


    Thomas Kolnberger is Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Luxembourg, Institute for History (IHIST) and Coordinator of various research projects, most recently: Military History of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg in a Transnational Perspective. His fields of interest are the history of Luxembourg; small-state studies; military history; and historical and urban geography.

    Harlan Koff is Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Luxembourg; GAMMA-UL Chair in Regional Integration and Sustainability at INECOL, A.C., Mexico; Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa; and Docent in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research focuses on international development; comparative regional integration; and migration.