For decades, the world's smallest states – the structurally weakest members of the multilateral system – have been considered incapable of influencing international organisations (IOs). So, why has the label small state risen to prominence over the last two decades and become institutionalised as a formal grouping in multiple IOs? Drawing on more than eighty in-depth interviews, we explain the rise of Small Island Developing States in the United Nations system, the expansion of their agenda to the Small and Vulnerable Economies group at the World Trade Organization, and then to other IOs. The adoption of the labels is evidence of small state norm diffusion. We identify the competent performance of vulnerability within multilateral settings as the key to explaining this norm emergence and diffusion. The lesson is that diffusion ‘from below’ is not always driven by a desire to increase rank. In this case small states have gained benefits by maintaining a lowly position in a hierarchy in which large is stronger than small.


'Norm entrepreneurship and diffusion ‘from below’ in international organisations’

Review of International Studies

Professor Jack Corbett et al

This article presents a new contribution to the burgeoning body of comparative regionalism scholarship, within which small state regions have mostly been overlooked. It systematically examines four geographically proximate contemporary Caribbean regional systems, drawing on constructivist approaches in International Relations to frame and explore the dynamics of region-making/region-building by state actors and institutionalized, narrative-driven intergovernmentalism therein.

"The Pacific is one of the few places without a legal framework to resolve cross-border commercial disputes through international arbitration. This stifles the growth of its economies, as a credible dispute resolution and enforcement regime is fundamental to their ability to attract foreign direct investment and trade with countries in other parts of the world..."

"New Zealand lawyers have benefited for 30 years from attending trial skills enhancement programmes devised here. The learning by doing method under tuition of experienced lawyers and judges has been shows to markedly improve lawyers' confidence in conducting aspects of trial work more effectively be it leading evidence, cross examination, and addressing judges and juries. In more recent times the New Zealand Crown Law Office has led the development of a special programme aimed at lawyers practising in courts in Pacific Island countries. The number who have now attended the programmes with similar results being registered is substantial" - Sir Anand Satyanand

Courts and Civil Procedure in the South Pacific

Jennifer Corrin & David Newton Bamford

This book compares the conduct of civil cases in countries of the South Pacific. It explains the practical application of civil procedures in the context of the courts in which they operate. The text focuses on the rules that apply in the superior courts of Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. An introductory chapter explains the origin of the rules and the factors that link and differentiate them. The preliminary considerations that should be weighed before proceedings are instituted are highlighted. In a separate chapter, the constitution and civil jurisdiction of the courts are explained. Legislative and case law developments are also discussed. The book also has a chapter on alternative ways of resolving civil disputes. The text describes recent changes to the rules and suggests further reforms that might be considered by South Pacific rule making bodies. 

The book is designed for use by legal practitioners and scholars interested in civil procedure in the South Pacific region. It is also of use to teachers and students of South Pacific civil procedure, both at degree level and in professional legal training programmes.


Pacific cultures value fairness, equality, protection of the most vulnerable, helping and serving others, participation, dialogue and consensus building. These human rights values and principles are not foreign but are embedded in Pacific beliefs, laws and policies, and in international human rights instruments. They cut across priority sectors, including economic, social and cultural rights, and political and civil rights and freedoms.

This publication, Human rights in the Pacific – A situational analysis, provides a comprehensive analysis of the status of human rights in the Pacific region. Although it is not intended to be an assessment of the human rights situation in each country, it sheds light on human rights issues and gaps in countries, and provides information for decision-makers, including for planning action on government commitments to better protect, promote and advance human rights.

It is encouraging to note that in recent years many Pacific countries have made considerable efforts to meet human rights commitments and obligations, as well as ratify and report on core human rights treaties. Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, in their 2011 communiqué, noted the achievement of all Pacific states in reporting during the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. In May 2016, Samoa and Papua New Guinea became the last Pacific states to be reviewed under the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. All Pacific states submitted country reports and engaged in this process.

While considerable progress has been made, much work still needs to be done to promote and protect the human rights of all citizens. Awareness raising and human rights education and training are essential in this regard.

We hope Human rights in the Pacific – A situational analysis will serve as a useful resource for governments, partners, civil society groups and individuals working to promote human rights and build a sustainable future based on dignity and freedom for Pacific people.