1st Edition

The Success of Small States in International Relations Mice that Roar?

Edited By Godfrey Baldacchino Copyright 2023
    248 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Success of Small States in International Relations highlights the normality and power of small states in international relations.

    This book overturns the stereotype that small states, however defined, are weak and are, or ought to be, consigned to the margins of international relations. It argues that small states are not ‘punching above their weight’, or even anomalies – since it is large states which are the anomaly in the global system. The text unpacks the nature and character of small state success, while also looking critically at thirteen episodes in modern history where small states, singly or collectively, emerged victorious in confrontations with larger states. The case studies, globally sourced, are bookended by conceptual and analytic reviews of what these events mean for diplomacy, international relations and small states more generally.

    This book will appeal to scholars and students of comparative political science and international relations, particularly from small states, as well as policy makers and senior small state government officers.

    1. Small State Success in International Relations: A Rationale

    Godfrey Baldacchino

    2. Reproposing the Small State

    Godfrey Baldacchino

    3. Between Idea and Refuge: How the Republic of San Marino Survived the Emergence of Italy

    Valentina Rossi

    4. Interpreting Iceland’s Victories in the ‘Cod Wars’ with the United Kingdom

    Valur Ingimundarson

    5. Neutralism as a Strategic Culture for a Small State: Malta’s Showdown with NATO and Britain, 1971–72

    Godfrey A. Pirotta and Carmen Sammut

    6. Aruba Versus the Rest: The Case for Separatism and Non-sovereignty

    Luc Alofs

    7. Timor-Leste: The Unexpected Victory

    Peter Job

    8. A Small State Taking on a Giant: Antigua and Barbuda ‘Getting the Better’ of the United States Without Overturning Structural Asymmetry

    Andrew F. Cooper

    9. Spoiling the Celebration: Liechtenstein Gets Noticed in Europe

    Christian Frommelt

    10. Degrees of Success: The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference

    Godfrey Baldacchino and Sylvanna Antat

    11. ‘Door Kicker’: Explaining St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Successful Play for a Seat on the United Nations Security Council

    Winston Dookeran and Preeya S. Mohan

    12. The Fight to Achieve Full Decolonisation: Mauritius Versus the United Kingdom

    Chris Monaghan

    13. Somaliland: A Partial, Fragile, Yet Significant Small De Facto State Victory

    Scott Pegg

    14. Climate Change, Multilateralism and Small States: How the Marshall Islands Rocked the Boat at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

    Melodie Ruwet, Jack Corbett, Xu Yi-Chong and Patrick Weller

    15. Small State Success in Actual Arenas: New Zealand’s and Iceland’s Overachievement in Sport

    Wesley van Drongelen

    16. Epilogue: Small State Size is More Than a Capacity Constraint

    Godfrey Baldacchino and Jack Corbett


    Godfrey Baldacchino is Professor of Sociology at the University of Malta, Malta's Ambassador-at-Large for Islands and Small States, and founding editor of the Small States & Territories open access journal. He has authored and edited over 40 books, including The Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies (2018), Solution Protocols to Festering Island Disputes (2017), Entrepreneurship in Small Island States and Territories (2015) and (with Anders Wivel) Handbook on the Politics of Small States (2020). His research interests include island studies, small state studies, political geography, international relations, island tourism, brain rotation, immigration, labour relations and human resource management.

    "Academic debate and political discourse are replete with references to elite groups like G7, G20 or P5 and, in the non-state sphere, to ‘the big Four’ or those deemed ‘too big to fail’. Not here: The Success of Small States in International Relations: Mice that Roar? refreshingly examines the roles and strengths of ‘small states’ from a truly global perspective (and less so their vulnerabilities, for a change). Small states in international fora are not just ignored or bullied except where their voting strength matters. This exciting book highlights their contribution and the victories they can still obtain on merit."

    Milan Meetarbhan, Former Ambassador of Mauritius to the United Nations

    "This is a major contribution to our Small State Studies book series and to knowledge on the subject matter of small states. There is vast knowledge on small states in terms of scholarship and policy/political papers and experience (diplomacy, societal governance, etc); but there is very little that engages in any meaningful comparisons and contrasts using a genuinely small-state perspective case-study format as this book does. Moreover, the successes of small states are often vastly understated. This book is a major contribution to the literature, and I would certainly want to make it part of our sociology, politics and international relations curricula."

    Nicos Trimikliniotis, University of Nicosia, Cyprus

    "This important volume analyses why, how and when small states succeed in influencing international affairs. Exploring international and domestic conditions as well as the role of leadership, the authors show how small states take advantage of international rules and norms to further strategic interests that go well beyond the defensive protection of territorial integrity. Arguing that small state influence should no longer be treated as exceptional, the book adds significantly to our understanding of small states in international affairs and challenges conventional understandings of international relations."

    Anders Wivel, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

    “This book is a valuable vademecum for the national political elites of small states, urging them not to be easily intimidated or pushed around, not afraid to speak up, not to hide from a challenge.”

    Evarist Bartolo, Former Labour education and foreign minister, Malta, writing in the Times of Malta, 2023 https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/opinion-it-small-world.1041851

    “The book's ability to intrigue further interest in the topic, based on its relatively short case-studies, is crucial, and this volume certainly excels… Overall, this edited volume is a useful resource for everyone interested in small states as actors in international politics.”

    Milla Vaha, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji Islands, writing in International Affairs, 100:1, pp. 418-20, 2024