Sarina Theys - Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Affairs and Coordinator of Diplomacy and International Affairs Program

Office: S211 FBE Building

Phone: (679) 32 31924


Personal Website

Sarina Theys is a Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Affairs at the School of Law and Social Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji Islands. Previously, Sarina was a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on an ESRC impact project on improving the effectiveness of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations through mediation; a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on research impact beyond academia; and a Lecturer in Politics at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. In addition to this, Sarina is a Member of the Editorial Board for Polity and an advisor on the security and political power of small states for the Institute of Small and Micro States. Prior to this, Sarina was a Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Law at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand; an Observer at COP25; a Knowledge Frontiers Forum Fellow in Australia; one of the co-editors for Politics and the Middle East and North Africa Newsletter (published by the American Political Science Association); Middle East and North Africa Fellow in Qatar and Kuwait, appointed by the American Political Science Association; and a Research Fellow at Georgetown University in Qatar.

Sarina holds a PhD in Politics, an MSc in Political Science (with a specialization in International Relations and Transnational Governance) and a BSc in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. Her current research combines these fields and investigates how individuals and state actors in small and island countries develop and utilize material and ideational resources, including identities, to achieve their objectives.

Sarina has a strong record of interviewing political elites (e.g., prime ministers and presidents) and citizens from countries in Asia, Africa, North America, Pacific island states, South America and Europe. Sites of fieldwork include Belgium, Bhutan, India, Qatar, Spain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.

Academic Qualifications

PhD in Politics, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

MSc in Political Science: International Relations and Transnational Governance, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands

BSc in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Studies in Academic Practice, Newcastle University, United Kingdom.

Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training, Newcastle University, United Kingdom.


  • International relations of small states and Pacific island states
  • Political Power of small states and Pacific island states
  • Security of small states and Pacific island states
  • Current project: The ontological (in)security of Pacific island states and islanders in the context of climate change


Semester 1 – Pacific in a Changing World Order

Semester 2 – International Politics of Asia-Pacific

Semester 2 – Diplomacy, Negotiation and Statecraft

Recent Publications


2023. ‘Unanimity or standing aside? Reinterpreting consensus in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’, International Environmental Agreement: Politics, Law and Economics. In Press. Co-authored.

2022. ‘#EndorseTheAO: Pacific Islands Students Fighting for Climate Change and the International Court of Justice’, Comparative Law Journal of the Pacific, 27, pp. 73-77.

2022. ‘Small States Reconsidered: Small Is What WE Make of It’, Journal of International Affairs, 74(2), pp. 81-95.

2021. ‘Leading the Way: Pacific Island Countries and the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations’, Comparative Law Journal of the Pacific, 26, pp. 203-220.

2020. The Influence of Small States: How Bhutan succeeds in influencing global sustainability governance, International Affairs, 96(6), pp. 1603-1622. Lead author.

2015. Introduction: The Soft Power of Hard States, Politics, 35 (3-4), pp. 213-215. Co-authored.

Book Chapters

2024. ‘Pacific Islands Forum – 2023’, New Zealand Yearbook of International Law, 20. Nijhoff: Brill. Co-authored.

2023. Knowledge Production and Student Learning in Political Science: Bhutan and the Politics of Happiness, pp. 393-400. In Butcher, C., T. Bhasin, E. Gordon and M. Hallward (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Teaching and Research in Political Science. Camden: Palgrave Macmillan.

2023. ‘Pacific Islands Forum – 2022’, New Zealand Yearbook of International Law, 19. In press. Co-authored.

2022. ‘Pacific Islands Forum – 2020’, New Zealand Yearbook of International Law, 18, pp. 148-152. Co-authored.

2021. Crossing Borders, Traversing Cultures and Mediating Identities: A Reflection on Fieldwork Conducted in the Arab Gulf, in Guttormsen D.S.A., J. Lauring and M.K. Chapman (eds.) A Field Guide to Intercultural Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

2017. Constructivism, pp. 36-41, in McGlinchey, S., R. Walters and C. Scheinpflug (eds.) International Relations Theory. Bristol: E-International Relations.

Book Reviews

2023. A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics. Tom Long. Reviewed in International Affairs.

2021. Combatting Climate Change in the Pacific. The Role of Regional Organizations. Marc Williams and Duncan McDuie-Ra. Reviewed in Environmental Politics.

2021. Routledge Handbook of State Recognition. Edited by Gëzim Visoka, John Doyle and Edward Newman. Reviewed in International Affairs, 97(1), pp. 233-235.

2020. Handbook on the Politics of Small States. Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino and Anders Wivel. Reviewed in Small States & Territories Journal, 3(2), pp. 459-461.

2020. Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies: A World of Islands? Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino. Reviewed in International Affairs, 96(1), pp. 233-235.

2019. Elucidating Social Science Concepts. An Interpretivist Guide. Frederic Charles Schaffer. Reviewed in Qualitative Research, 19(5), pp. 614-616.

Policy Briefs

2021. Re-Interpreting Consensus: A new approach to improving UNFCCC negotiations. Co-authored.

2021. Set-Up For Success: Using Non-Negotiation Spaces to Increase Climate Ambition. Co-authored.

2021. Moving Forward Together: Using Facilitation, Mediation and Mutual Learning Approaches in UNFCCC Negotiations. Co-authored.

Online Publications

2023. Pacific Island States and International Climate Change Policy. Australian Institute of International Affairs.

2020. COP25 and Pacific island states: ‘we are keen to lead, not to be led’.

2018. Running Hot and Cold: Bhutan-India-China Relations.

2016. 3 Common Editorial Questions raised at IPSA 2016.

2016. Things to remember when transforming your conference paper into a journal article.

2015. Interviewing Elites.

2015. Behind the Scenes: the story of an Editorial Assistant.

2015. Bhutan’s international presence and the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.

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