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Emerging Middle Powers’ Soft Balancing Strategy: State and Perspectives of the IBSA Dialogue Forum

  • Daniel Flemes


    (GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies)

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    How can weaker states influence stronger ones? This article offers a case study of one recent exercise in coalition building among Southern middle powers, the ‘India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum’. The analysis outlines five major points: first, it argues that the three emerging players can be defined as middle powers in order to frame their foreign policy behavior and options at the global level. Second, soft balancing is a suitable concept to explain IBSA’s strategy in global institutions. Third, institutional foreign policy instruments are of pivotal significance in IBSA’s soft balancing strategy. Fourth, the potential gains of IBSA’s sector cooperation, particularly in trade, are limited due to a lack of complementarity of the three economies. And fifth, IBSA’s perspectives and impact on the international system will depend on four variables: IBSA’s ability to focus on distinct areas of cooperation, the consolidation of its common strategy of soft balancing, the institutionalization of IBSA, and its enlargement in order to obtain more weight in global bargains.

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    Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 57.

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    Length: 30 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:57
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    1. Daniel Flemes, 2007. "Conceptualising Regional Power in International Relations: Lessons from the South African Case," GIGA Working Paper Series 53, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
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