Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of History and Politics


As a subcategory of small states, island microstates are the smallest. Using the Cook Islands and Kiribati as case studies, this thesis examines the relationship and effect of small size on foreign policy behaviour. The thesis also examines the implications of the other key characteristic of island microstates, namely islandness, for foreign policy behaviour.

On the relationship between size and foreign policy behaviour, the thesis reveals two sides. First, foreign policy behaviour is conceptuahsed as one of the key areas through which the two island microstates respond and seek to manage problems, including economic dependence, which originate from their small size. In other words, the conditions and problems deriving from smallness motivate activities in the external environment which make up foreign policy behaviour. These external activities include the quest for increased intemational recognition as competent intemational actors, the maximisation of economic benefits in the form of increased aid and development assistance and improved retums from extemal ttade and other forms of external relations. Second, small size and its correlates, also circumscribe and constrain foreign policy behaviour.

The two manifestations of the relationship between smallness and foreign policy behaviour are demonstrated in the two case studies, which comply broadly with the characteristics postulated by the main theories of small state foreign policy behaviour, particularly East's (1973) well-known model. The data from both case studies show some variations in detail from the main theories of small states' foreign policy behaviour, and qualify the postulates of these theories from the situations of smaller states.

In so far as islandness (the other key characteristic of island microstates) is concemed, data from Cook Islands and Kiribati show that islandness not only imposes difficulties over and above those of smallness per se, but also accord them with a specific set of options. The evidence show that islandness has important implications for improving the instrumentalities and capacities of island microstates to manipulate their extemal environments. With the advent of the Law of the Sea, island microstates are now controlling vast expanses of ocean areas which not only increased their physical area, but more impportantly redefined their economic prospects and, to a considerable extent, increased their extemall involvements beyond the restricted foreign policy behavioural pattems predicted by most theories of small states foreign policy behaviour, including the influential East model.

02Whole.pdf (4523 kB)



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.