Small states with presence

Qatar is among a number of small states that punch above their weight. We lookat three other states with influence and a global group Singapore started to get smaller states heard at the table.

New Zealand: Active in many regional and global organisations

POPULATION: 4.8 million

INDEPENDENCE: Oct 28, 1835

GDP: US$183 billion (2016, OECD data)

SIZE OF DEFENCE FORCE: 9,249 active personnel and 2,418 in reserve forces


• New Zealand is active in many regional and international organisations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec). It is also a dialogue partner with Asean. A former prime minister, Ms Helen Clark, was UN Development Programme administrator.

• It contributes to peacekeeping and disaster relief missions.

• It is also part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, which guarantees all five nations will consult one another if Malaysia or Singapore is attacked.

• New Zealand has clashed with the United States over its anti-nuclear stance. In 1984, the country passed a law that banned nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from entering its waters. But as the US neither confirms nor denies whether its ships have nuclear capabilities, this led to the US suspending its obligations to New Zealand under the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty.

Norway: Nato founding member which facilitated the Oslo Accords

POPULATION: 5.3 million

INDEPENDENCE: 1905, with the dissolution of the forced union between Norway and Sweden

GDP: US$310 billion (2016, OECD data)

SIZE OF ARMED FORCES: 24,950 active personnel, 45,590 in reserve


• Was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), which it is actively involved in. The first secretary-general of the United Nations was Norwegian former foreign minister Trygve Lie.

• Part of the European Economic Area but not the European Union (EU). It has access to the EU's internal market, and there is free movement of goods, capital, services and people between Norway and the EU.

• Regionally, it is part of the Nordic Council together with Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

• Norwegian diplomats have acted as third-party mediators in several international conflicts, including in Bosnia and Sudan.

• The 1993 agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation on a peace process between Palestine and Israel were named the Oslo Accords, a nod to Norway's role in facilitating them.

Qatar: Tries to assert regional influence by mediating in hostilities

POPULATION: 2.6 million. Migrant workers make up nearly 90 per cent of the population.

INDEPENDENCE: Sept 3, 1971. Formerly a British protectorate.

GDP: US$152 billion (2016, World Bank data)

SIZE OF ARMY: 16,800 active personnel


• Founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and early member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

• Its Al Udeid Air Base hosts America's largest military force in the Middle East, as well as other coalition troops. It also hosts a Turkish military base, a point of contention in the ongoing diplomatic crisis.

• Has increasingly tried to assert regional influence by mediating during hostilities in the region, and strengthening its soft power through its Al Jazeera news group. It also takes sides in Middle East developments such as the Arab Spring series of popular uprisings.

• In 2014, it joined the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It has been accused by other countries in the Middle East of supporting extremist groups. Qatar roundly denies that it supports terrorism.

Switzerland: Famously neutral, many world bodies based in Geneva

POPULATION: 8.4 million

INDEPENDENCE: 1648, when it became independent from the Holy Roman Empire

GDP: US$526 billion (2016, OECD data)

SIZE OF ARMED FORCES: 20,950 active duty, 144,270 in reserve


• Famous for its longstanding neutrality.

• The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which form the basis for international humanitarian laws during war, were named for Geneva, Switzerland's second-most populous city, where their predecessor - the 1864 Geneva Convention - was created.

• Many international organisations have their headquarters in Geneva. They include the Red Cross, and many United Nations agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Health Organisation.

• Not a member of the European Union and became a full member of the United Nations in 2002.

• Is often a protecting power - that is, a third state go-between when two countries do not have diplomatic relations with each other.

• Brokers truce agreements between parties such as the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army, and acts as a mediator in Palestinian politics.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline Small states with presence. Subscribe