Micro-states in the international system : the challenge of sovereignty
The last forty years have witnessed a proliferation of very small states, or micro-states with populations of approximately one million or less. Most of these states are developing economies but in recent years even the smallest European micro-states have won acceptance in the councils of the organised international system. This study is a comprehensive examination of the international relations of these states in three principal areas of concern: issues of status and legitimacy; the conduct of diplomacy and the efforts of micro-states to achieve strategies of self-reliant economic development. While the research has confirmed the vulnerabilities of micro-states in all three areas which have been stressed in the literature of the last decade, it also reveals surprising opportunities for some micro-states to ameliorate their weaknesses and to achieve a constructive engagements within the international system. The international milieu and the many support systems at both the regional and global level have actually reinforced the sovereignty of micro-states while providing them with added resources to exploit the opportunities which an increasingly integrated global economy offers. Unlike earlier studies in the field, this dissertation treats the experience of micro-states within the broad context of post-1945 history and thus provides an overall perspective for assessing the impact of very small size over 50 years. It also represents a departure from the existing literature in its determination to include both the developed micro-states in Europe and the more commonly studied micro-states in the developing world. Finally, much of the analysis compares the experiences of micro-states with those of forty larger small states in the next population class, an approach which has not been undertaken elsewhere. The impact of this comparison further confirms the general findings of the dissertation that the international system of the mid to late 1990s has evolved into a largely supportive milieu for micro-states in spite of the serious and occasionally dangerous problems which they continue to face.