Small states, by their very nature, share specific concerns and common interests, such as environmental and economic vulnerabilities. Singapore is supportive of platforms that allow small states to discuss and foster common positions on issues of mutual concern, thereby giving them a bigger voice in the UN. In 1992 in New York, Singapore established an informal grouping of small states known as the Forum of Small States (FOSS). Membership in FOSS is on a non-ideological and non-geographical basis. It now comprises 108 countries and meets a few times a year to discuss issues of concern to small states. 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of FOSS.
To commemorate this, the inaugural FOSS Conference on Small States was held on 1 October 2012 in New York. The Conference was well attended, with over 230 participants from more than 120 countries, international organisations and non-governmental bodies, and with many high-level speakers including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, and the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Thinley. The Conference profiled the role and contributions of small states in the international arena, and also provided a platform to share experiences and strategies for development among small states. In 2015, Singapore launched the FOSS Fellowship Programme to foster better understanding and closer cooperation among FOSS states. Under the Fellowship Programme, Permanent Representatives to the UN from FOSS states are invited to Singapore for study visits where they have the opportunity to exchange views on development challenges with Singapore’s leaders and policy makers.
Singapore has also helped to form a Global Governance Group (3G), comprising 30 small and medium-sized states. The 3G was formed primarily to exchange views on issues concerning global governance in the aftermath of the emergence of the processes such as the G20, including how this has impacted small and medium-sized states and how we could better engage and feed our views into the G20 process.
Besides FOSS and the 3G, Singapore is also an active member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).