Workshop reports


Forthcoming publication by Springer small state series.

Small States and the New Security Environment

The book focuses on the external dimension of inherent size-related difficulties in states and how small states compensate for their inbuilt structural weaknesses compared with their larger neighbouring states. One third of the member states of NATO are small and most NATO partner states are small states too.  Small states frequently have a disproportionate effect on global politics and they are more often affected by global shifts of power, yet they have less resources available to address security challenges. The aim of the book is to enhance the understanding of the role of small states in the changing global international security environment.   A special focus is on ‘new’ security threats and solutions, such as drones and hybrid warfare. Simultaneously, the book addresses how small states are responding to emerging ‘old threats’, such as Russian aggression in its neighbouring states and increased activity in the North Atlantic. The book seeks to answer questions like: How are the small member states of NATO and its small partner states adjusting to the new geo-political and geo-economic environment? Do small states in NATO manage the tension between alliance commitments differently from small states that are not members of NATO? What are the core strategic interests of the NATO and non-NATO partner small states?

The book presents the theory of shelter (which is derived from the diverse and extensive literature on small states) and uses it to examine how small states respond to new and old security threats. Shelter theory addresses three interrelated issues of common concerns to small states: the reduction of risk before a possible crisis event, assistance in absorbing shocks in times of crises, and help in recovering after such an event. In short, shelter theory claims that small states need external shelter in order to survive and prosper. They are dependent on the economic, political, and societal shelter provided by larger states, as well as regional and international organizations.


Publications by young researchers

Nato Ireland  

By Dr. Steven Murphy

Friends with benfits

By Dr. Steven Murphy


Abstracts for two papers by Dr. Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, to be published in 2020

Icelanders’ views on security and foreign affairs since the end of the Cold War are an understudied issue. This article presents the findings of a large scale survey on the position and ideas about foreign affairs and security. The survey was conducted by the Social Science Research Institute of the University of Iceland in November and December 2016. The results of the survey are placed in the context of developments in security studies, with an emphasis on security sectors, ontological security, and securitization. The main findings are that the Icelandic public believes that its security is most threatened by economic and financial instability, as well as natural hazards, but thinks there is a very limited chance of military conflict or terrorist attacks directly affecting the country. These findings are incongruent with the main emphases of Icelandic authorities, as they appear in security policy and political discourse. It is therefore important that the authorities understand how to engage with the public about the criteria upon which risk assessments and security policies are based.

This paper addresses the emergence of Iceland’s security policy, passed by parliament in 2016, tracing it through the previous decade or from the departure of the US military from Iceland in 2006. The policy is framed in the context of the literature on small states and security, noting that while Iceland occupies a unique space in the security environment, strategically located but mostly free from traditional military threats, and far more exposed to natural disasters and environmental hazards. How does a state in this situation define its own security? Delving into the parliamentary debates surrounding three key moments, the appointment of a Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) in 2007 and the publication of its report in 2009, the appointment of a parliamentary committee to formulate a national security policy in 2011, and the passing of the national security policy in 2016, this paper sheds a light on how an unarmed, yet militarily aligned state, addresses its security concerns and needs in a complex international environment.


US-Iceland defence negotiations, policy-brief

By Gustav Pétursson, full paper to be published in June 2020



„Pacific Islands Roundtable“
held at Georgetown University on 9 April 2019

Room 302-P, Intercultural Center, Georgetown University
9AM-12PM, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The roundtable is supported by the Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies at Georgetown University, the Small States and the New Security Environment (SSANSE) Project, funded by NATO-SPS and the Australian National University.

9:00 Welcome & Introductions

9:20 Presentations

The Pacific: A View from New Zealand
Professor Anne-Marie Brady
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, NZ

Perspectives on Security in the Pacific
Dr. Greg Brown
Georgetown University

10:00 Coffee Break

10:15 Discussion: Building Pacific Partnerships – Creating Opportunities and Overcoming Obstacles

11:15 Discussion: Building Capacity for Delivering Effective Partnerships

11:45 Conclusions & Next Steps


„Symposium on Russia and China’s Political Interference Activities in NATO Small States“
held at the Wilson Center  on 8 Aril 2019


About the event:

For both Russia and China, foreign political interference activities are a useful and cost-effective method of foreign policy. In Russia it is theorized as “smart power”, while China still uses the Soviet-era term “united front work”. The activities of Russia and China go well beyond accepted norms of public diplomacy and are having a corrupting and corrosive effect on many societies. This half-day symposium focuses on Russia and China’s Political Interference Activities in NATO Small States. The world is seeing a return of both “might is right” politics and spheres of influence. As history has shown, the weakness of small states in a time of rising security threats can undermine the security of larger powers. The Symposium examines case studies of some representative small NATO states experiencing Russia and China’s political interference activities, the patterns of interference to look for, and discusses what is to be done.


8:45am – Panel One

Donald J. Jensen: Assessing Contemporary Russian Interference Activities

Anne-Marie Brady: Magic Weapons? An Overview of CCP Interference Activities

Mark Stokes: Huawei and One Thousand Talents: China’s military links and technology transfer activities

Ryan Knight: Russia’s use of the Orthodox Church in Small NATO states

Alan Tidwell: Active Measures: Lessons Learned from the Past

10:10am – Morning tea

10:30am – Panel Two

Martin Hála: The CCP’s Magic Weapons at work in the Czech Republic

Khamza Sharifzoda: Armenia’s Struggle:  Escaping the Kremlin

Baldur Thorhallson: Iceland’s engagements with Russia and China

Neringa Bladaite: Russia’s Political Interference Activities in Latvia

Margarita Šešelgytė: Russia and China’s Political Interference Activities and Lithuania


„Small States and the New Security Environment“ held at the
Nordic House, Reykjavik 26 June 2018.



Policy briefs

Professor Baldur Thorhallson and Researcher Sverrir Steinsson
Professor and Research Director for the Centre for Small State Studies University of Iceland and NATO Project Country Director of SSANSE
The Theory of Shelter

Professor Caroline Kennedy-Pipe
Professor University of Loughborough
Rethinking the Cold War Small States- The US, Russia, and the Origins of Cooperation and Competition in Denmark,Norway, Iceland, and the Arctic

Professor Robert P Wheelersburg
Professor Elizabethtown College
North Atlantic Small State Security, 2025-NATO West Nordic Security Zone

Gustav Petursson
PhD Candidate University of Lapland, Finland
NATO´s Policy on Civil Resilience-Added Value for Small States?

Dr Steven Murphy
Post-Doctoral Researcher in the SSANSE Project-University of Iceland
European Small State Neutrals and NATO

Professor Alan Tidwell
Professor and Co-director of SSANSE-Georgetown University
Building Shelter in Washington-The Politics of Small State Engagement

Professors Anders Wivel, Rasmus Mariager,  and Clara Lyngholm K. Mortensen
University of Copenhagen
Denmark at War- Patterns and Developments in Denmark´s Military Engagement

Silja Bara Omarsdottir
Adjunct Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Researcher in the SSANSE Project
Risks and Threats in Small State- Icelanders´Perceptions of Security

Zivile Marija Vaicekauskaite
Young researcher in the SSANSE Project- Vilnius University
Security Strategies in the Nordic Baltic Region: Towards Enhanced Regional Defence Cooperation

Nearinga Bladaite
PhD Candidate in the SSANSE Project- Vilnius University
Building a Security Shelter Against Hybrid Threats and Systemic Challenges- Case of the Baltic States

Professor Martin Dangerfield
Professor University of Wolverhampton
Defence Policies of Small States in Central Europe-The Role of Visegrad Cooperation

Matus Misik
Assistant Professor Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia
External Energy Policy of the EU- Small Member State Perspective

James Rogers
Assistant Professor War Studies, University of Southern Denmark
Small States and Armed Drones

Hillary Briffa
PhD Candicate Kings College London
Malta- Bridge of the Mediterranean-Neutrality as a Small State, Status Seeking Grand Strategy

Vahram Ter-Matevosyan and Narek Mkrtchyan 
American University of Armenia
Croatia and Armenia-A Comparison of Foreign and Security Policy Orientations of Two Small European States

Ryan Knight
MA Candidate in the SSANSE Project Georgetown University
Confronting Corruption and State Capture in Moldova

Professor Tinatin Khidasheli
PhD Candidate, Caucasus University, Tblisi, Georgia
Thinking Out Loud about NATO in Georgia and Georgia in NATO

Professor Ian Taylor
Professor St. Andrews
The Specific Security Challenges of Small States in Africa

Dr. Imad K. Harb
Director of Research and Analysis Arab Center Washington DC
Self Preservation and Strategic Hedging in the GCC

Brahim Saidy
Assistant Professor Quatar University
Quatar´s Defense Policy, a Different Tradition of a Small State

Professor Anne-Marie Brady
Professor and the Partner Country Project Director of SSANSE, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
A New Model for New Zealand-China Relations

Dr Rebecca Strating
Lecturer in Politics and Early Career Research La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Balancing, Bandwagoning or Hedging? Small States and Security Alliances in the Asia-Pacific

Professor Stephanie Lawson
Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University Sydney, Australia
Contending Security Interests in Oceania

Toby Dalley
Young Researcher- University of Canterbury
The Dillemas of Energy Security for a Small State


„Small states and the changing global order: NZ faces the future“ held at the
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand 3-4 June 2017.


Conference report

Policy briefs

Professor Anne-Marie Brady
University of Canterbury/ Wilson Center/ SSANSE Project Director
Looking for points in common while facing up to differences:
 a new model for New Zealand-China relations
China’s expanding Antarctic interests: implications for New Zealand

Dr Joe Burton
University of Waikato
The reform of the UN: the part NZ can play

Professor Natalia Chaban
and Dr Serena Kelly
University of Canterbury
How to communicate New Zealand to global audiences via new media

Dr Kate Dewes
and Dr Lyndon Burford
Independent scholars
New Zealand and disarmament: what next?

Dr Martin Fisher
and Ben Mathews
University of Canterbury, Ngā Puhi, Tauranga Moana, Ngāti Porou
The emerging role of Māori business groups in New Zealand foreign affairs and trade

Dr Beth Greener
Massey University
NZDF Role in NZ Foreign Policy

Mr Nicky Hager
Exploring the meanings and possibilities of an independent New Zealand foreign policy

Dr James Headley
University of Otago
Russia’s Resurgence and New Zealand

Professor Richard Jackson
University of Otago
Imagining nonviolent foreign policy in a violent world

Mr K.C. Jung
University of Canterbury
New Zealand’s current relations with Korea and further areas for expansion

Dr Jake Lin
Victoria University of Wellington
Trading with the Great Powers: The limits of New Zealand’s Free Trade Strategy with China

Dr Adrian H. Macey
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand’s climate change diplomacy: future plans and challenges

Mr Leonardo Milani
Victoria University of Wellington
The New Sparta Modelling the Strategic Outcomes of New Zealand’s Cyber-Armament Program 2020-2040

Dr Vickie Miller
New Zealand’s future security

Professor Robert G. Patman
University of Otago
New Zealand-US relations in the Trump era and beyond

Professor Steve Ratuva
University of Canterbury
NZ’s aid policy: what could we be doing better?

Dr Jim Rolfe
Victoria University of Wellington
Should New Zealand and Australia Develop a Closer Strategic Relationship?

Dr Mark G Rolls
University of Waikato
Strengthening ASEAN Centrality in the Regional Security Architecture in the Face of Major Power Competition

Associate Professor Margarita Šešelgytė
Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University, Lithuania/ SSANSE Project Director
Small states’ use of the military in foreign policy

Dr Reuben Steff
University of Waikato
Expanding New Zealand foreign policy and trade beyond traditional partnerships

Professor Baldur Thorhalsson
Centre for Small States Studies, University of Iceland/ SSANSE Project Director
The small state in the new global order

Professor Alan Tidwell
Centre for Australia, NZ, and the Pacific, Georgetown University/ SSANSE Project Director
Re-calibrating New Zealand’s Congressional Outreach Strategy in the Days of Trump
New Zealand’s Potential in Small State Peacemaking

Dr Vangelis Vitalis
New Zealand’s Trade Agenda to 2030

Dr Corey Wallace
Free University of Berlin
Dealing with a Proactive Japan