Great power

A great power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability and expertise to exert its influence on a global scale.[2] Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence, which may cause middle or small powers to consider the great powers' opinions before taking actions of their own. International relations theorists have posited that great power status can be characterized into power capabilities, spatial aspects, and status dimensions.[3]

Great powers are recognized in an international structure such as the United Nations Security Council.[1]

While some nations are widely considered to be great powers, there is considerable debate on the exact criteria of great power status. Historically, the status of great powers has been formally recognized in organizations such as the Congress of Vienna[1][4][5] or the United Nations Security Council.[1][6][7] The United Nations Security Council, NATO Quint, the G7, the BRICs and the Contact Group have all been described as great power concerts.[8][9]

The term "great power" was first used to represent the most important powers in Europe during the post-Napoleonic era. The "Great Powers" constituted the "Concert of Europe" and claimed the right to joint enforcement of the postwar treaties.[10] The formalization of the division between small powers[11] and great powers came about with the signing of the Treaty of Chaumont in 1814. Since then, the international balance of power has shifted numerous times, most dramatically during World War I and World War II. In literature, alternative terms for great power are often world power[12] or major power.[13]


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