Centre for Small States

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About us

Co-Directors: Dr Petra Butler and Dr Caroline Morris
Co-Directors: Dr Petra Butler and Dr Caroline Morris

The Centre for Small States (CSS) at Queen Mary University of London is a home for research and learning into the legal issues facing small states. 

What are Small States?

We define small states as those states with a population of 1.5m or less. The Centre for Small States also includes within its remit some territories that are not classified as states as a matter of international law, yet are sufficiently geographically and culturally distinct entities to be worthy of study in their own right including the British Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey and British Overseas Territories such as the Pitcairn islands.

The small states of the world differ considerably in their geography, history, political structures, legal systems and wealth. Nevertheless, because of their size, small states face a set of common challenges including vulnerability to external economic impacts such as changing trade regimes and limited ability to diversify economic activity; limited public and private sector capacity, including the legal and judicial infrastructure; a need for regional co-operation and the impact of international law and globalisation. Many small states of the world are islands, and these are particularly susceptible to environmental impacts such as natural disasters and climate change. Small states can also be flexible, adaptable, sites of social development and innovation, and have an influence in the world disproportionate to their size.

Aims of the Centre for Small States

The aim of the Centre for Small States is to provide a platform for researchers to discuss and analyse the particular issues small states face, primarily through a legal but also through an interdisciplinary lens. Public and private law scholars with an interest in small states will all be welcome at the CSS.

  • The Centre for Small States aims to host workshops and seminars on the issues faced by small states in both public and private law. 
  • We hope to provide a forum to facilitate research and publications on issues pertinent to small states.  
  • The CSS also aims to undertake research projects on legal issues facing small states. The Centre‚Äôs inaugural project will be an investigation into dispute resolution in the Pacific.



View the Centre for Small States members and advisory board.

The Centre for Small States is an official partner of Island Dynamics, a research network promoting island studies and communities through knowledge exchange, cross-sectoral collaboration, research, and island studies conferences and publications.

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