To make a general assessment of the role of middle powers, it is necessary to relate their typical contributions to the international political process to the basic goals of the society of nations. Foremost among these have generally been international order, on which security and peace depend, and international justice.1 Most of the claims that in the past were advanced on behalf of the middle powers were based on their conduct in relation to international order. Such powers were presented as guardians of the balance of power, protecting the security of other states and the peace of the whole system;2 as moderating and pacifying influences in the society of states, reducing tension and limiting conflict among the great powers;3 or as principal supporters of international organisations, evincing a particularly high sense of responsibility.4 In recent times, however, some middle powers have concerned themselves rather more with matters of international justice than with order. Most middle powers of the Third World have put themselves forward as champions of anti-colonial, racial and economic justice. The contributions actually made by middle powers to the maintenance of order and the pursuit of justice may be considered first at the systemic level.


Great Power Small State Central Relationship International Politics International Order 
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Copyright information

© Carsten Holbraad 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carsten Holbraad
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for International RelationsQueen’s UniversityCanada

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