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Small States


Small states, by their very nature, share specific concerns and common interests, such as environmental and economic vulnerabilities. Singapore supports platforms that allow small states to discuss and foster common positions on issues of mutual concern, thereby giving them a bigger voice in the United Nations (UN). In 1992, Singapore established an informal and non-ideological grouping of small states in New York known as the Forum of Small States (FOSS).  Since then, Singapore has served as Chair of FOSS. It now comprises 108 countries across all geographical regions and at all levels of development and meets several times a year to discuss issues of concern to small states. Apart from New York, FOSS Chapters have also been established in Geneva, Vienna, and London.

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, including high-level speakers such as then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, and then-Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigmi Thinley. The Conference profiled the contributions of small states to the international community, and allowed small states to share experiences and strategies for development. In 2015, Singapore launched the FOSS Fellowship Programme to foster better understanding and closer cooperation among FOSS states. Under the Fellowship Programme, Ambassadors based in cities where FOSS Chapters exist are invited to Singapore for study visits, where they can exchange views on development challenges with Singapore’s leaders and policy makers. As of 2020, Singapore has hosted 88 Ambassadors from 62 countries under the Fellowship Programme.

In 2009, Singapore set up another informal grouping of 30 small- and medium-sized members of the UN: the Global Governance Group (3G). The 3G was formed primarily to, inter alia, promote greater transparency and inclusivity in the G20 process by encouraging stronger dialogue and linkages between the G20 and the broader UN membership. As the Convenor of the 3G, Singapore hosts, inter alia, the 3G Ministerial Meeting annually on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly High-Level Week, involving 3G members, the G20 Troika (past, present and incoming presidencies), as well as the President of the UN General Assembly.

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). Singapore is committed to assisting fellow SIDS through capacity building efforts under the Singapore Cooperation Programme. SIDS officials have participated in our training programmes which cover diverse topics such as sustainable development and climate change, public governance, and economic development. In recognition of the unique challenges faced by SIDS, Singapore has offered special technical assistance packages for SIDS since 1999. The latest package – the “Singapore Partnership for the SAMOA Pathway (SPa)” – was launched by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan at the 74th UN General Assembly in September 2019 and extends to 2024 to support SIDS’ implementation of the SAMOA Pathway. It offers targeted and tailor-made programmes, particularly on climate change and disaster risk reduction. Some of these programmes will be organised through enhanced partnerships with the UN and other international organisations. It also allows for SIDS officials to be eligible for priority placement in other SCP courses and civil aviation and maritime fellowships.

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