Small States and Global Governance: Managing the Challenges of Emerging Technologies and “Frontier Issues”


This May 8th roundtable discussion, the final in a series of three sessions in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Singapore, focused on the topic of small states and their role in global governance relating to new and emerging issues such as cybersecurity, digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and outer space.

These frontier domains pose both immense opportunities for development and potential risks that could further widen divides between and within countries. Small states must work together to build multilateral governance frameworks, rules, and norms that allow them to effectively manage the challenges posed by these issues, while not stifling innovation and growth. At the same time, they must find ways to level the playing field in the development and deployment of new technologies, so that all can benefit equitably, especially the small states themselves.

To guide the conversation, participants considered the following questions:

  • What are the particular challenges faced by small states in dealing with emerging technologies, and are there existing avenues in the UN or other multilateral platforms that can help them to address these?
  • What important elements ought to be considered in establishing governance frameworks and norms vis-à-vis frontier issues, that would help to build the most conducive environment for small and developing states to best harness the potential and opportunities of technologies?
  • How can small states best contribute to growing global conversations on frontier issues and project their voices in these efforts, and how can they support each other in their endeavors?

The event was co-organized in collaboration with the Permanent Missions of Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Namibia, New Zealand, Samoa, Senegal, Switzerland, and Qatar.

Discussions will be captured in a final report to be prepared at the conclusion of the roundtable series.