First Advisor

Gary Scott

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




Developing countries -- Foreign relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 127 p.)


Although Third World states lack military and economic strength, they still are able to exert considerable influence on certain international issues. The proliferation of small states following World War II, coupled with the twentieth century acceptance of the norm of sovereign equality, has enabled the weak states of the international system to challenge the order established by the strong. While Third World nations are weak according to traditional measures of power, sovereign equality and bloc voting by the small states, have accorded a type of "conditional" power to the South. This conditional power is augmented by the advent of a new international issue, the environment. Because of their large populations and natural resource bases, developing countries significantly influence environmental problems and therefore have greater leverage in environmental negotiations. This thesis seeks to demonstrate that because of the military and economic weakness of the South, it has sought to develop alternative sources of international strength. These new sources take advantage of norms and issues particular to twentieth century world politics. While these other sources thus far lack the potency of military or economic power, they do provide the South with a limited, but nonetheless important amount of influence in international politics. This thesis analyzes the nature and scope of the South's power arising out of the acceptance of the norm of sovereign equality. The paper also studies a second source of strength for developing nations, negative power; this power is based on the South's ability to frustrate Northern efforts to deal with serious environmental problems. By examining two major international environmental conferences, the thesis demonstrates both the character and limitations of this negative power. The foregoing study concludes that the new power of the South, though still quite limited today, may be an indication of growing strength as global environmental problems become increasingly central to international relations.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier