Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2011

Securing global commons: A small state perspective

Mika Aaltola, Joonas Sipilä, Valtteri Vuorisalo

June 2011

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


This report examines the increasing importance of the global commons. It argues that the securing of the sea-, air-, space-, and cyber-based global flows solidifies the vital structures of global interdependence. For a small state with a highly specialized economy, the multilateral frameworks for securing global flows are crucial. Each global domain highlights different aspects of power and requires unique forms of international cooperation. Whereas the maintenance of sea, air, and space flows are resource-intensive, cyberpower demands de-territorial agility and innovativeness and, therefore, evens out power disparities. It is also noted that, although individual global domains are usually considered separately, they are intimately connected and characterized by cross-domain dependency. This report focuses on the cyber domain because of its novel cross-domain impact. The CD&E and MNE processes and their relation to military transformation and patterns of political discourse are approached. It is argued that a small state can utilize the MNE forum to gain important situational awareness over the domains and cross-domain issues, as well as facilitate the formulation of multilateral normative frameworks. This multilateral work on solidifying and securing global flows offers a more stable foundation for the main networks of global interdependence.