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“Large Ocean States”: Sovereignty, Small Islands, and Marine Protected Areas in Global Oceans Governance

Small island states are typically portrayed as vulnerable and insignificant actors in international affairs. This article traces the emerging self-identification of “large ocean states” that these small island states in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are now employing, juxtaposing their miniscule landmass and populations with the possession of sovereign authority over large swathes of the world’s oceans. Such authority is increasingly being exercised in the context of biodiversity conservation through expanding marine protected areas (an element of both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity) as an expression of “ecological responsibility.” This new exercise of green sovereignty reinforces state control over spaces previously governed only at a distance, but control made possible only through compromises with nonstate actors to fund, monitor, and govern these MPAs.

Year: 2018

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