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Small States in the UN Security Council: Means of Influence?

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SummaryThis article argues that there are two broad categories of qualitative factors that determine the ability of small states to influence the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The first is the internal competence of small states in areas such as knowledge, initiative, and diplomatic, coalition and leadership skills. The second is the image of the state in the international system with specific regard to its perceived neutrality or reputation as a norm entrepreneur in particular policy fields. These qualitative features need to be combined with quantitative variables — such as population, territorial size, gross domestic product (GDP) and military capacity — that are normally used in International Relations (IR) in order to understand small states’ ability to become active participants in the UNSC.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of International Affairs/Centre for Small State Studies, and Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland Reykjavik Iceland, Email:, URL:


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