What are the human development opportunities and challenges for small states in a multi-polar world? An answer to this question must consider human development strategies at large, the constraints imposed by neoliberal globalism and better practice in recent times. Small states have particular vulnerabilities but may also benefit from realignments within new regional blocs. There are already a number of relevant and important “post Washington Consensus” themes and lessons from the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) groupings. These have much to do with redefined human development policies and less to do with extraction of natural resources. The best examples of human development come from those which are relatively resource poor but which have invested heavily in human capacity. This article considers the strategic opportunities and challenges for small states within the new forms of integration presented by an emerging multi-polar world with its new regional blocs. Best practice has come from sustained and focussed human capacity building, while the range of possible integration strategies in the new global environment could be characterised as passive integration, avoiding capture, counter-leverage and regional realignment, within and between the emerging blocs.
World Review of Political Economy, 8(3)