Reports and papers

City Diplomacy: The Expanding Role of Cities in International Politics

17 Apr 2007 - 14:35

Although it could be argued that foreign affairs is still primarily a task of national governments and their ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs), the state is no longer the only actor on the diplomatic stage. Associations of states, NGOs and multinational corporations, for example, increasingly play a role in diplomacy. Despite substantial attention for these three groups of new actors, academic discussion has focused less on the increasing role of another actor in diplomacy, namely the city. This omission is remarkable given the increasing importance of cities around the world. In 2007, for the first time in human history, more people will live in urban than in rural areas. In addition, on a global scale, over 100,000 people a day move to cities. World cities such as Tokyo, New York and London have economies as big as the economies of medium-sized countries such as Canada, Spain and Sweden. It is therefore clear that cities now matter more than ever, making some even term cities as the one socio-political unit that is growing in power in the era of globalization.

This paper aims to fill a gap in the academic literature on diplomacy by introducing the concept of city diplomacy. It will be argued that city diplomacy is a professional, pragmatic and upcoming diplomatic activity on the international political stage, which is changing and will continue to change current diplomatic processes.

More information

Information is available at the secretariat of the Clingendael Diplomatic Studies Programme of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, contact by e-mail or tel. +31(70)3746605.

About the author

Rogier van der Pluijm was Research Assistant with the Clingendael Diplomatic Studies Programme from September 2006 until March 2007. He holds an MA degree in Policy, Communication and Organization from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam) and an MA degree in International Peace and Security (with distinction) from King's College London.