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Small States

Bronwen Maddox
Bronwen Maddox - this week's Analysis presenter.

BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Small States is broadcast on Monday 12 October at 20.30 BST.

We live in an age of small states. When the UN was founded in 1945 it had 51 members. Now there are 192.

The post-colonial era spawned nations at a rapid rate. The fragmentation of the USSR and its satellites created even more.

Many new nations are tiny. Of the 53 members of the Commonwealth, for example, 32 have populations of fewer than 1.5 million people.

But is it a good idea to be small?

In this week's Analysis, Bronwen Maddox asks why so many small nations run into trouble.

icelanders protesting
Iceland: Small, beautiful, independent - and now broke.

And she considers whether the collapse of Iceland a year ago, once cited by the SNP as a model economy, makes Scottish independence look less likely - and less desirable.

Analysis finds that while there is an economic argument that size no longer matters (because empire doesn't pay and a country can get the resources it needs through trade), small nations are vulnerable to a number of threats: cronyism; crime; corruption; and currency shocks.

There are success stories among the small nations of the world - from Singapore to Switzerland - and they have in common a number of attributes, like strong economic governance and advanced social development.

But their formula is not easily replicated.

Still, the desire for independence remains strong in aspiring nations all over the world.

Often, it is easy to understand why.

Analysis finds, however, that in many cases it is far from obvious that a successful campaign for independence will lead to a wealthier, happier nation-state.

Interviewees include:

John Kay, economist and member of the Scottish Council of Economic Advisers

Dr Marc Weller, Reader in International Law at Cambridge University

Professor Robert Wade from the Development Studies Institute at the London School of Economics

Dr Muhamet Hamiti, Ambassador for the Republic of Kosovo, London

Professor Lino Briguglio, Director of the University of Malta's Islands and Small States Institute

Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

Oksana Antonenko, Programme Director, Russia and Eurasia, the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Pavel Samecki, EU commissioner for regional policy

Bronwen Maddox is The Times' chief foreign commentator.

Coming Up

Edward Stourton investigates growing opposition to the Iranian regime from among the country's most senior Muslim clerics.




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