Emerging Middle Powers' Soft Balancing Strategy: State and Perspectives of the IBSA Dialogue Forum
GIGA Working Paper No. 57
31 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2007 Last revised: 16 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 1, 2007
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.
Keywords: India, Brazil, South Africa, IBSA Dialogue Forum, middle power, foreign policy, international relations, South‐South relations
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