What is it about?

It examines the intension of a small state, Austria, to seek membership on the Council for the 2009-2010 term, the campaign strategy and the domestic debate on the candidacy. The analysis indicates that Austria’s former status as an empire and successful transformation in the post-war period influenced its can- didacy and campaign strategy. Also, Austria’s ideational commitment to the UN cause was the foundation for its successful UNSC campaign. Austria’s small size was not a hindrance in its campaign: on the contrary, as a small state Austria gained prestige for its competence and contributions to the UN. A UNSC seat for Austria was not a ques- tion of a small state seeking status; rather, it was a quest for remaining relevant and maintaining status in a changing world system.

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Why is it important?

There is a growing literature on non-permanent members on the Council. However, the literature mainly deal with the power potential of non-permanent members on the Council; that is, after they have been elected to it. Besides, there is a considerable literature on the financial benefits about membership on the UNSC. However, it seems inclusive and does not apply to WEOG countries such as Austria. For a long time, scholars have criticised lack of theoretical frameworks in taking into account characteristics associated with small states and their behaviour in international organisations. This is nowhere more evident than in studies on the role of small states on the UNSC. Most existing studies on small states on the Security Council do not place them within the small state literature. Small states are analysed according to the traditional international relations literature which most often deals with states in the international system as similar social units. These studies are in danger of missing an important variable the size of states in explaining states’ behaviour in the international system.

Perspectives

Small states are most often analysed according to the traditional international relations literature which deals with states in the international system as similar social units. These studies are in danger of missing an important variable the size of states in explaining states’ behaviour in the international system.

Baldur Thorhallsson
University of Iceland

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This page is a summary of: Small States in the UN Security Council: Austria’s Quest to Maintain Status, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, December 2020, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/1871191x-bja10017.
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