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 Vagaries of Vulnerability

A distinction is often made between a ‘weak state’ and a ‘weak power’. In line with this distinction, a state, because of its great size, considerable economic resources and large population, may be rated as a strong power capable of mustering considerable military might. But, due to internal factors such as a weak institutional structure, lack of a strong sense of nationhood or the existence of unassimilated ethnic minorities or poorly defined borders, it may at the same time be a weak state.


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