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Policy Papers - May 13, 2014

Small States at the United Nations: Diverse Perspectives, Shared Opportunities

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin

 

 

Small states make up the majority of United Nations member states, and they are among the strongest advocates for the rules-based multilateral system. Yet many small states face challenges in advancing their interests at the UN.

Drawing on the insights and ideas of 54 small-state UN missions, this report explores the strengths and challenges of small-state diplomacy at the UN. While small states have made significant contributions to policy development and debates at the UN, the author finds that small states share key challenges to participating effectively in diplomacy and policymaking at the UN—particularly in terms of asymmetric access to information, capacity constraints, and structural barriers in the UN system.

The report identifies opportunities for strategic cooperation among small states and offers practical recommendations for addressing their shared challenges. These include, for example, streamlining the UN’s information delivery processes, enhancing the accessibility of Secretariat personnel, and developing training and guidance for mission personnel on technical and procedural matters at the UN.

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