Trade and Globalisation

Reports and papers

The Diplomacy of Micro-States

15 Mar 2006 - 00:00

Micro-states are the smallest, and usually the weakest members in the international states-system. Without sufficient political or economic power, diplomacy remains the only means through which these states could make an impact in the international system. It is conventionally assumed that micro-states focus on a narrow functional and geographical range of issues, and generally keep low levels of engagement in world affairs. This is exemplified in the limited number of resident missions that these states maintain abroad.

This study examines the value of resident embassies to micro-states. It analyses the various functions of the embassy and evaluates their value and importance to micro-states. The study also examines the foreign policy making and implementing structure in these states. Based on a compilation of data on diplomatic representations, it evaluates the extent to which micro-states are engaged in international diplomacy, and the selectivity of these states in making overseas representations. The main conclusion of the study is that the resident embassy remains indispensable to micro-states in promoting and enhancing their national interests. It also found that these states tend to focus on a narrow range of issues in their external relations and, thus, exercise a measure of selectivity in establishing resident embassies abroad.