Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Ryan C. Hendrickson


Small-state foreign policy is often characterized by the types of alliances that form between small and large states. It is rarely disputed that small states fend for themselves in the global milieu that creates today's societies. Rather, the debate usually begins as to why small states seek strategic alliances with large states.

This thesis, on the other hand, questions the very existence of small-state alliances by examining the foreign policy behavior of six small island states. The analysis begins with a quantitative breakdown of United Nation voting behaviors by five Pacific states — Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, and Tuvalu. Next, a description of the policy behavior that these five states have demonstrated toward environmental issues is explained. Finally, in chapter four the island state of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, is examined for its behavior on three specific issues of foreign policy.

Ultimately, the conclusions tend to suggest that no discernable alliances are forming between the selected small states and some of the world's largest powers. Two principle reasons why this thesis suggests its findings to be true are because of the recent trend that small states have exhibited for participating in international organizations, and because of the eminent threat that issues such as global warming place on fragile island ecosystems.