Small state foreign policy

New study on small state foreign policy published in the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Politics. The size of states is a hot topic today, in particular with the discussions surrounding Brexit and what it means for the UK’s future as a global power. Recently, the Danish Finance Minister characterized the UK as a small nation, which if true, would strongly bear on the UK’s power and needs. Being small is not completely hopeless though:

“Thankfully for small states, it has never been as easy being small as it is in the current international system with its unprecedented degree of peace, economic openness, and institutionalization. Small states can and do influence world politics in an international system as permissive as the current one. While small states remain highly constrained by their size, there is considerable leeway for maneuver. Small state influence is, however, contingent on the time, effort, and resources that small states put into diplomacy.”

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Social policies, more so than Brexit, determined the UK election

Much of the discourse before and after the election has centered on the wrong aspects when trying to explain Jeremy Corbyn’s success. The best explanations for his success have mostly to do with his promises to rebuild NHS and the educational sector. That Labour ran on a traditional social democratic platform played a key role.

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The UK general election 2017

Surveys suggest that the Tories will win the election, but that there could be an upset. There is at the very least variation in the surveys, which shows on average a 6-7 point lead for the Tories. There are however uncertainties though about what former UKIP voters and former Green voters will do, what effect the recent terrorist attacks will have, and how the Tory domestic agenda affects voters who otherwise like their Brexit stance.

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The Small State in the New Global Order

What do New Zealand, Iceland and the Baltic states have in common? I have learned a lot from an excellent two day conference on the foreign policy choices of New Zealand as it faces the changing global balance of power. I spoke about Iceland’s foreign policy options in the new global order and Margarita Seselgyte talked about the Baltic states and their relations with NATO, the EU, the US, and Russia. This was the startup of a project on the defence and foreign policy choices and challenges of NATO small states and NATO partner states in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Oceania in the new security environment. The aim is to examine how NATO might better partner with these states. The next conference will be held at the Centre for Small States at the University of Iceland in June 2018.


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Small states and the changing global order

Trump and Small European States today! Iceland and the USA in 2006 and 2008! What do small states do when a superpower deserts them? How do small states defend themselves when deserted by their most trusted longtime ally? The first conference in our project on Small States and the New Security Environment takes place at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch in New Zealand this weekend. The SSANSE project is a preparedness initiative examining the defence and foreign policy choices and challenges of small states in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Oceania in the new security environment.

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Small States in a Legal World

New book Small States in a Legal World has been published, featuring the chapter Small States in the UNSC and the EU: Structural Weaknesses and Ability to Influence. If you’re in London, make sure to a a seminar on the book on 15 June at Doughty Street Chambers.

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Research grants for young researchers

The Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland was recently awarded a grant from NATO. The project is a preparedness initiative examining the defence and foreign policy choices and challenges of small states in NATO and its partner small states in Eastern Europe, MENA, and Oceania in the new security environment. In relations to this project the Centre issues a call for applications for two research grants for young researchers. The researchers can be MA, PhD or Post-doc level. Each grant is 12.000 Euros to be divided in three payments over the grant period from 1 September 2017 through 31 December 2019.

Requests for for further information and applications should be sent to Margrét Cela, project manager at the Institute of International Affairs, no later than Friday 30 June 2017.

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Eurovision and civil war

There was a remarkably contrast between the glamor of Eurovision in Kiev last week and the civil war that was being waged in the Eastern part of Ukraine.

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Book on Icelandic sovereignty

Book on Icelandic sovereignty forthcoming in fall 2017.

The table of contents can be seen in the following picture.

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Iceland’s Relations with its Regional Powers: Alignment with the EU-US sanctions on Russia

New paper published today, co-authored with Pétur Gunnarsson: ‘Iceland’s Relations with its Regional Powers: Alignment with the EU-US sanctions on Russia’. The paper examines the Icelandic government’s consideration to withdraw its support for the sanctions against Russia over Ukraine in 2015. The consideration came as a surprise to many since Iceland in the past has habitually aligned itself closely with the United States and the European Union in such matters. The Icelandic fishing industry lobbied hard for the sanctions to be lifted to avoid Russian counter-sanctions on Iceland. After considerable internal debate, the government decided to uphold the sanctions, but settled on a policy of not taking part in EU´s foreign policy declarations about the sanctions. This move is interesting given Iceland’s traditional positioning between two gravitational centres in world politics: the EU and the US. The paper discusses what this case tells us about Icelandic policymakers’ room for maneuvering in the formulation and enactment of its foreign policy, and about Iceland’s foreign policy bonds to the US and the EU.

A more compacted paper will be published in the academic journal Global Affairs this summer.

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