Small States in Crisis

Proud to present a new chapter and a book on Small States and Crisis Management.  In our chapter Anders Wivel, Kulli Sarapuu and I discuss how to analyse crises in small states (Analysing Small States in Crisis: Fundamental Assumptions and Analytical Starting Points).  The book, Small States and the European Migrant Crisis: Politics and Governance, edited by in Tómas Joensen and Ian Taylor, examines the experience of small states in Europe during the 2015–2016 migration crisis. The contributions highlight the challenges small states and the European Union faced in addressing the massive irregular flow of migrants and refugees into Europe and the Schengen Area. The book is final product of the Jean Monnet Network NAS - Navigating the Storm: The Challenges of Small States in Europe. It also features chapters from Tómas Joensen, Charalampos Tsardanidis, Mariliis Trei, Primož Pevcin, Danila Rijavec, Arndís Anna Kristínardóttir Gunnarsdóttir, Đana Luša, Triantafyllos Akis Karatrantos, Roderick Pace and Hugo Brady, and an excellent concluding section by Anders Wivel.


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Small States in the UN Security Council

Our article on the Austria's bit to get a seat on the UN Security Council in 2008 has just been published in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, (16, 2020, pp. 1-29). It is titled Small States in the UNSC: Austria's Quest to Maintain Status (a copy of the last version before publication). This article is a part of a research project titled ‘The Quest for Power in International Politics’, which examines campaigns of  small states for non-permanent seats on the UN  Security Council. The project initiators and leaders Ann-Marie Ekengren and Ulrika Möller at the University of Gothenburg have done a great job and I am grateful to them for making me a part of this exciting project. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council. An article of mine, Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir and Anna Margrét Eggertsdóttir on Iceland's bit to get a seat on the UN Security Council is also forthcoming. We have also written a book chapter comparing Iceland campaign for a seat on the Council with to Austrian bit.  You will also find a newly published article on the quests by the Netherlands and Sweden for the Security Council Membership by Ekengren and Möller in the The Hague Journal of Diplomacy.

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Small States and the New Security Environment

Our new book, Small States and the New Security Environment, is just out - published in the Springer book series the World of Small States.

This book examines the security, defence and foreign policy choices and challenges of small states in NATO and its small partner states in the new security environment. The main aim of the book is to analyse how these states are dealing with current and emerging security challenges and how they might better prepare for these challenges. A special focus is on ‘new’ security threats and solutions, such as drones and hybrid warfare. Simultaneously, the book focusses on how small states are responding to emerging ‘old threats’, such as Russian aggression in its neighbouring states and increased activity in the North Atlantic.

The book presents the theory of shelter (which is derived from the diverse and extensive literature on small states) and uses it to examine how small states respond to new and old security threats. Shelter theory addresses three interrelated issues of common concerns to small states: the reduction of risk before a possible crisis event, assistance in absorbing shocks in times of crises, and help in recovering after such an event. In short, shelter theory claims that small states need external shelter in order to survive and prosper. They are dependent on the economic, political, and societal shelter provided by larger states, as well as regional and international organizations.

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Nordic cooperation as a form of governance: Iceland’s sheltered society

New chapter on Nordic cooperation as a form of governance in an excellent book Handbook of Governance in Small States
With this chapter, Sverrir Steinsson and I 'have detailed how Iceland, the smallest of the five Nordic states, has used Nordic cooperation as a form of governance, allowing Iceland to provide services and govern its territory in as professional and efficient manner as its larger neighbouring states. Nordic regional cooperation has enriched Iceland’s governance capabilities. Iceland received political and economic shelter from the Nordic states, as well as extensive societal shelter. Whereas other research has highlighted how governance reforms come from within or from the wide-reaching European project, we provide a detailed case of how a small state has used regional cooperation to advance its own governance capabilities.
In terms of political shelter, Iceland’s diplomatic capabilities have been strengthened by Nordic cooperation. The Nordic states coordinate considerably on foreign policy matters, which gives them disproportionate influence internationally. Furthermore, the Nordic states also share embassies and missions, and have agreed to protect the interests of Nordic citizens abroad, which is particularly important for Iceland, which cannot afford embassies and missions in every corner of the world. In terms of defence and security, Iceland has relied considerably on Norway and Denmark for air and sea surveillance but it has relied on the other Nordic states as well for other aspects of security, such as cyber security. Nordic cooperation has not only provided Iceland with better means to govern its overseas relations, it also plays a part in Iceland’s security governance.
In terms of economic and societal shelter, the Nordic assistance in dealing with developments in Europe has been crucial for Iceland. Nordic cooperation has been a way for Iceland to track developments regarding European integration, and sometimes push Iceland to examine the benefits of European integration, as was the case with EFTA, EEA and Schengen accessions. Nordic cooperation has also eased Iceland’s transition from a closed market to an open European economy. Iceland has enjoyed the fruits of Nordic cooperation in social affairs, such as the development of the freedom to settle and work in the Nordic countries, travel without passports in the region, and enjoy the same social security and labour rights as the nationals of the state in which they are living. The ability of Icelanders to seek employment and education in the Nordic states, in particular during times of crisis, and then returning to Iceland, is crucial in terms of managing a small volatile economy with limited sectoral diversity and insubstantial education opportunities. Iceland has also extensively tracked legislative and cultural movements in the other Nordic countries, and mimicked policies that were developed by its neighbours. This includes the Icelandic social welfare system, women’s rights legislation and LGBT rights legislation. Accordingly, economic and societal shelter provided by the Nordic states has been essential for the small Icelandic society. Nordic cooperation in the economic and societal sphere has been an important part of Iceland’s governance from the 1950s.
Iceland’s reliance on Nordic cooperation as a way to govern may also have had its downside, as identified in shelter theory. Politicians may have felt tempted to delay the development of an efficient and comprehensive decision-making procedures within the public administration, such as with a focus on long term policy making. The cost-efficient policy approach simply to follow policymaking in the other Nordic states may have been too tempting.'
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Getur Íslands haft áhrif á ganga alþjóðamála?

Hlaðvarpsþáttur um Rödd Íslands á alþjóðavettvangi þar sem ég fjalla um möguleika Íslands til áhrifa í alþjóðamálum. Þátt­ur­inn er hluti af Frið­ar­dögum í Reykja­vík 2020: Er frið­ur­inn úti? sem haldnir eru á vegum Höfða frið­ar­set­urs Reykja­vík­ur­borgar og Háskóla Íslands, í sam­starfi við  UNICEF á Íslandi, UN Women á Íslandi, Félag Sam­ein­uðu þjóð­anna og utan­rík­is­ráðu­neyt­ið. Hlaðvarp Kjarnans.

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Getur Ísland orðið leiðandi í mannréttindamálum?

Spurn­ingin um það hvort Ísland geti orðið leið­andi í alþjóða­sam­fé­lag­inu er sam­ofin þeirri spurn­ingu hvort lítil ríki geti látið til sín taka í alþjóða­mál­um. Norð­ur­löndin sem talin eru lítil ríki í alþjóða­kerf­inu hafa sýnt fram á að þau geta haft áhrif á ein­stök mál innan Sam­ein­uðu þjóð­anna. Spyrja má hvort Ísland geti fetað í fót­spor þeirra og hvaða for­sendur þurfi að vera til staðar til þess.Ísland geti orðið leið­andi í alþjóða­sam­fé­lag­inu er sam­ofin þeirri spurn­ingu hvort lítil ríki geti látið til sín taka í alþjóða­mál­um. Norð­ur­löndin sem talin eru lítil ríki í alþjóða­kerf­inu hafa sýnt fram á að þau geta haft áhrif á ein­stök mál innan Sam­ein­uðu þjóð­anna. Spyrja má hvort Ísland geti fetað í fót­spor þeirra og hvaða for­sendur þurfi að vera til staðar til þess.
Skrifaði pistil um möguleika Íslands til að láta til sín taka í alþjóðamálum í tengslum við friðardaga í Reykjavík 2020.

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Hard-line Eurosceptics Clash with Eurosceptics in Iceland

New chapter about Euroscepticism in Iceland: Iceland - Hard-line Eurosceptics Clash with Eurosceptics. Most political parties represented in the Althingi, the Icelandic national parliament, are Eurosceptic in the sense that they oppose Iceland’s membership in the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, the vast majority of them support Iceland’s membership in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Schengen, and there is a cross party consensus on membership in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). However, in recent years, the Icelandic political party system has become increasingly polarized around European integration. New Eurosceptical and pro-European parties have emerged, which either campaign to limit Iceland’s participation in the EEA and Schengen, or to join the EU. The established political parties which prefer the status quo have joined forces in a cross right-left coalition government. They have had to fight off fierce opposition from the Eurosceptic hard-liners to the implementation of the Third Energy Package of the EU within the EEA framework and pressure from the Europhiles to re-open the accession talks with the EU.
You will find the chapter in a book titled Euroscepticism and the Future of Europe: Views from the Capital  edited by in M. Keading, J. Pollak, P. Schmidt, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

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The Nordic states Keeping Cool at the Top?

New chapter on the The Nordic states Keeping Cool at the Top? with Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir. The Nordic states have an international reputation for being among the most advanced, liberal, and egalitarian welfare societies in the world, as well as being active international players. Given their small state status, however, they face similar challenges when it comes to maintaining their influential positions, both at home and abroad. The main aim of this chapter is to examine how the Nordic states have dealt with these challenges and kept the Nordic model and their active international engagement intact. We argue that the Nordic states’ responses to current challenges are based on a profound understanding of their position as small states. They use their traditional, cautious and flexible approach, as well as their consensus seeking behaviour, when responding to economic, welfare and migration problems domestically, as well as confrontations by aggressive external actors. Simultaneously, they have sought political, economic and societal shelter provided by their close allies and international organizations and use these fora to continue their active international engagement. Thus, Nordic states generally cope and even prosper despite their size and related political, economic and societal vulnerabilities.
You will find the chapter
in G. Baldacchino and A. Wivel (eds.) Handbook on the Politics of Small States, Edward Elgar, pp. 113-130.

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Decisive strategy combined with a positive image and political willingness

Doing my bit on Small States at the OECD. I had the honour to speak about the ability of small states to influence decision making in international organizations at a meeting of ambassadors of small states in the OECD at the residence of the Icelandic ambassador, Kristján Andri Stefánsson, in Paris. It was great to meet representatives of small states who have the challenging task to try to have a say in the complex structure of the international system. We had lively discussions about the methods small states can use to exercise their influence in international organizations. Great to see that Iceland is taking the lead in getting small states together and finding a way for them to cooperate closer within the OECD. I finished my talk by saying something like: A strategy based on prioritisation, flexibility, informality, autonomy of officials and decisive knowledge combined with a positive image and political willingness can lead to negotiation successes of small states in international organizations.


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Silence is still the worst enemy

Doing my bit on queer rights at the OECD in Paris. I had the pleasure and honour to give a speech on the development on queer rights in Iceland (From Oppression to Rainbow Revolution: LGBTQ Social Progress and Legislative Victories) at the second year anniversary of the Group of Friends of Gender Equality Plus. Iceland is doing a great job raising awareness of LGBTQ+ rights within the OECD under the leadership of Kristján Andri Stefánsson, the Icelandic ambassador. I spoke about how societies, in general, go through a number of stages in the process from intolerance to acceptance regarding queer rights - though their timeframes may be different and they may dwell shorter or longer at each state. I argued that the Icelandic society evolved in six stages. I finished the talk by saying: We will of course have to continue to fight homophobia and transphobia just like women continue to fight for equal social rights. Three final points. First, we need to make sure that LGBTQ rights are labelled human rights. Queer rights are human rights and we should never ever give discount on that fact. Second, securing full equal rights is like climbing a high mountain which in the beginning seems impossible. It is a challenging task, but the step-by-step approach (discussed in the speech) will slowly but steadily take us to the top. Finally, we have to make sure that the queer communities are visible on the way to the top. Silence is still the worst enemy.

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