2022: Microstates and Small States (Vol. 74, No. 2)


Abstracts and Pitches: January 28, 2022 (rolling) 

Analytical Arguments (about 3,000 words): January 28, 2022

Peer-Reviewed Essays (4,000–6,000 words): January 28, 2022

Formal study and practical analysis of international relations has largely prioritized the geopolitics of great economic and security powers, emerging states with similar capabilities, and the effects of their actions on the international system. Such scholarship, however, tends to overlook the geopolitics of smaller states: microstates, small island states, and city-states. Microstates and small island states play a unique role in international affairs. Some serve as economic hubs for global banking; others have been the central flashpoints for economic and military competition between larger powers. Small island states have brought the urgency of climate change to the forefront of global public discourse, while many states have instigated conversations on decolonization and global inequities. The Vatican exerts global influence through its position as the seat of Catholic power. As small states and societies serve increasingly as fulcrums for the core dynamics of international affairs, many have not settled on definitions for microstates, small island states, and city-states.

The Journal of International Affairs’ 149th special issue will focus on exploring the role of microstates and small island states, in international affairs. Microstates and small island states face several adverse effects: dependency on great powers; economic, ecological, and military vulnerability; and brain drain through migration. Advantages to governing a microstate include a strong sense of national solidarity. Their low profile also means that they can fly under the radar with innovative policies. Those that serve as offshore tax havens can face both advantages and disadvantages from such a macro-policy choice.

What kind of power and influence do microstates and small island states have in international affairs, including in relation to global economy, security, climate, and diplomacy? How are microstates and small island states influenced by global powers and vice versa: what do microstates and small island states elucidate about larger states, the global system, and international relations more generally? How should scholars, policy practitioners, business leaders, and social changemakers think about and consider microstates and small island states?



JIA seeks contributions that establish compelling ways of thinking about small states, specifically that of microstates and small island states, in ways that directly influence practical international affairs and suggest ways that international actors can proceed in the current context.

Intersecting themes and possible topics for consideration include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Defining and conceptualizing micro-states;
  • Climate change and ecological vulnerabilities of small island states;
  • Decolonization and addressing inequities in the global system;
  • The effects of globalization on micro-states and small island states;
  • Migration and brain drain;
  • The Vatican’s role in international affairs, including in mediation and diplomacy;
  • Tax havens, the Pandora Papers, and corruption;
  • Global banking and economic hubs;
  • Development, trade and economic relations with micro-states and small island states;
  • Competition by larger states’ geopolitical and strategic interests;
  • Military and security politics of micro-states and small island states;
  • Diplomatic and multilateral contributions of micro-states and small island states;
  • Governance of micro-states and nationalism.

Submission Guidelines

JIA publishes peer-reviewed academic essays of 4,000–6,000 words and analytical arguments of about 3,000 words, which are not peer reviewed. Those interested in contributing are welcome to submit for either format. All articles must represent original, unpublished work. Conference papers or discussion papers that have not previously appeared in print are welcomed. JIA follows Chicago style, and its citation format is an adaptation of Chicago’s Notes and Bibliography system. Adaptations of existing work, such as book chapters, are considered if they are distinct enough from the original, and conference papers are welcome.

Interested contributors may submit a full draft, or a 200-word abstract/pitch detailing key questions, arguments, methodology, and findings (for an essay), and implications for scholars and policy practitioners. Please email your draft or pitch, along with brief biographical information, to [email protected] with “JIA Small States Submission” in the subject line.