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Caribbean Small States' Foreign Policy Roles Spotlighted

A New Study Explains the Elevation of Moroccan Relations with Caribbean Countries

Nand C. Bardouille*

To make progress in their respective developmental trajectories, to an important extent, Caribbean countries adopt a strategy of extending their diplomatic reach (that is, leveraging status-seeking type foreign policy roles in a hierarchical, levels of analysis-related interstate system) and influence (that is, leveraging either foreign policy-based transactionalism or foreign policy-based multilateralist vectors). It turns out, now more than ever, the Kingdom of Morocco is in the diplomatic sights of several sovereign small states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – especially the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), whose members are a subset of CARICOM – and vice versa.

My recently published research article – entitled 'Turning to Rabat: Explaining the Elevation of Moroccan Relations with Caribbean Countries, carried in The International Spectator – explains those strengthened diplomatic relations in a context where it proffers a general understanding of the nature of Caribbean small states' foreign policies. This novel analysis brings together key insights from role theory and some academic research on diplomacy vis-à-vis small states in international politics, as outlined in Figure 1, drawing on sources that emphasise the primary effects of discourse.

While a growing number of IR and foreign policy scholars have applied role theory to several empirical cases, they have overlooked the case at the centre of my study, which pinpoints a convergence of interests. In this way, we are able to comprehend better the hand that both the OECS bloc and Rabat has to play regarding advancing their diplomatic priorities and ties. Uncovering what it takes to achieve these ends is an overarching theme in the article, which also traces how the OECS's openly pro-Rabat foreign policy plays out. In taking this stance, OECS members wield their interests in multilateral diplomacy.

Arguably, insofar as OECS-Moroccan relations are characterised by a range of opportunities, the bloc is making strides to benefit from such diplomacy. At the same time, my article finds that the prominence given to an official transactionalist diplomatic approach therein brings about significant risks. There are possible drawbacks in the context of implications arising – both in real time and over the long-term – for such states around the national interest, which policy-makers should be wary of regarding foreign policy decision-making. The aim of the article's conclusion is, in part, to analyse this point.

Possible future research directions, building on some of the themes dealt with in my study, are the subject of the final discussion point. The focus is on pushing for a foreign policy analysis-directed, Caribbean-focused research agenda that – in its knowledge production – draws lessons from the intellectual moorings of the 'Global IR' movement.

Figure 1 Turning to Rabat post
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*Manager, The Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean in the Institute of International Relations (IIR), The University of the West Indies (The UWI), St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago.


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