Small States in the Global Society

image of Vulnerability

This study is the result of a decision by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their 1983 Meeting in New Delhi. It was conceived in the framework of the Commonwealth’s long-standing concern with the economic problems of its very many small member states. The ‘vulnerability’ of small states is the essential concept informing the enquiry and it is considered in all its relevant aspects – military, political, economic, technical, social and cultural.  



The Threat Scenario

With the working definition of national security as “the absence of threat to the capacity to govern, protect, preserve and advance the state and its peoples consistent with the principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states”, a threat to security can be legitimately interpreted as any type of specific action or situation which could damage national integrity. However, in offering this interpretation, it should be acknowledged that no government, not even of the most powerful states, is able to function entirely free of some form of external constraint. Certain constraints, for example, automatically flow from the fact that membership of an international community is founded upon agreed principles of conduct, including the principle of non-intervention itself.


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