Cities in International Politics Research Proposal

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City Diplomacy: The Increasing Role of Cities in International Politics

Over the past several decades, there has been a tendency for cities to be involved internationally and this is stated to demonstrate that demonstrates that the maintenance of international relations is no longer exclusively the domain of national governments. This is because cities are beginning to step into their own place on the international stage. The following thesis focuses on city diplomacy and the increasing role of cities in the use of diplomatic tools in the international relations arena. Relations among states are managed through diplomacy and by diplomats however, diplomacy is also used by local governments in their defense of certain interests in the international community.

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Cities, ruled by local governments, have gained acceptance worldwide for the establishment of international relations by foreign policy development in cooperation with local governments approach through setting up lobby networks to make their work visible in the international community. In addition, local governments feel the responsibility and see the advantages of contributing to democratic development elsewhere. Therefore, local governments participate in international cooperation projects and share in the experiences of their colleagues abroad. This kind of reasoning comes from two sides, since governments are more than ever facing a situation of internal conflict or war they are increasingly asking their counterparts to support them in dealing with the accompanying problems. As government tiers closest to the citizens, local governments feel responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and peaceful environment for their citizens.

II. Purpose of Study

The purpose of this present study is to fill in the gaps in the academic literature on diplomacy toward supporting the belief 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.

III. Significance of Study

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Cities in International Politics Assignment

The significance of this study is the additional information that will be added to the already existing base of knowledge in this area of study.

IV. Research Questions

The research questions is this study are those of:

(1) Is diplomacy only the domain of states?

(2) What is the role of the cities in international politics and international relations?

(3) Does the role of cities in international activities influence or affect the states' role in these activities?

V. Theoretical Framework

The theoretical approach of the thesis in this study is based on paradiplomacy which is a new concept in international politics. The concept of paradiplomacy refers to the international relations conducted by subnational, regional, local or non-central governments on their own, for the purpose of promoting their own interests. Paradiplomacy appears to be an aspect of the overall globalization process in which various non-state actors play an increasing and influential role in the international arena. Regions, federal states, provinces and cities seek their way to promote trade, investments, cooperation and partnership in a long list of subjects and account for a significant part of today's cross-borders contacts.

The work entitled: "Transnationalism and Subnational Paradiplomacy: Is This Perforated Sovereignty or Are Democracy and Civil Society Just Reaching Across Borders?" written by Matthew S. Mingus, Assistant Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration for Western Michigan University states that the nation-state "...has not always been the dominant conduit for collective action and may give way to developing forms of collective organization as the world progresses." (2003)

Mingus holds that in the moment networks and network structures are holding things together reasonably well without having to abandon the nation-state model." (Mingus, 2003, p.1) Mingus explains that it has been suggested that a "patchwork of network structures may be emerging in the 21st century with a degree of sovereignty that rivals or exceeds that of 20th century nation-states." (Mingus, 2003, p.1)

Mingus relates that the traditional perspective of the relationship of two "sovereign nation-states is that diplomats for the national units of government serve as the primary interface with politicians showing up to close deals and shake hands in front of the cameras." Then as the issue is seen from a more technical or scientific perspective there is the requirement for public administrators to become involved in assisting politicians and diplomats in the development of policies and clearing up the detail work." (Mingus, 2003, p.1)

Mingus states that state and provisional governments have been enabled to become players on the international level through globalization of the economy and the "ease of international communications and reduced shipping costs..." (Mingus, 2003, p.1)


Chapter Two: Literature Review

I. Literature Review

The work of Rogier van der Pluijm and Jan Melissen (2007) entitled "City Diplomacy: The Expanding Role of Cities in International Politics" states that the assertion is often made that modern diplomacy "characterized by the establishment of permanent missions that are resident in the capital of a foreign country, finds its origins in the Peace of Westphalia. However, the foundations of diplomacy as such were established long before 1648, in times when states as they are known now did not yet exist and cities pioneered as foreign policy entities. Diplomacy existed therefore prior to t he existence of states. One example stated is that in ancient Greece, "city-states like Athens and Macedon were regularly sending and receiving embassies of an ad hoc character and appointed ambassadors to engage in negotiations on behalf of the city-at-large." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

Additionally it is stated that in Renaissance times, "powerful Italian city-states like Venice and Milan were the first to establish permanent diplomatic missions abroad and to create an organized system of diplomacy." (Nicolson, 2001: 6-33 in: van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007) Following the Treaties of Westphalia, cities such as Venice were no longer to hold their monopoly in the areas of foreign policy and diplomacy because these became "the domain of the newly established European states." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) State-centeredness was further intensified by standardization of diplomacy following the 1815 Congress of Vienna "in both the theory and practice of international relations in general and of diplomacy more specifically." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

It is reported as well in the work of van der Pluijm and Melissen (2007) that while it could be held that foreign affairs at the beginning of the 21st century 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." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

In the year 2007, there were more people living in urban areas than live in rural areas for the first time in history. Globally, more than 100,000 individuals each day move to cities and this emphasizes the fact that cities "now matter more in the world than ever, making some even term cities as the one socio-political unit that is growing in power in the era of globalization." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

Van der Pluijm and Melissen (2007) state that cities "operate in multilayered diplomatic environment[s]" and ask the question of "how could the term of city diplomacy be further conceptualized?" In an answer to this question van der Pluijm and Melissen state that a discussion involving diplomacy "should first of all distinguish between the content -- that is foreign policy and the way in which this concept is 'sold'..." (2007, p.1)

It is important to understand due to the interrelatedness of these two concepts that "the diplomatic process tends to change in with any change in foreign policy goals." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) There are many existing definitions of diplomacy and these definitions have undergone changes in the past decade in alliance with the changes occurring in the international political system.

Melissen and Sharp (2006) state that diplomacy could be "in very general terms...defined as the institutions and processes by which states and other represent themselves and their interests to one another." (in van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

City diplomacy could be defined according to van der Pluijm and Melissen (2007) as "a form of decentralization of international relations management, choosing cities as the key actors." Key actors in city diplomacy are mayors, "given they are often responsible for the international relations of their city." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007) It is stated however, that "alderman, councilors, municipal civil servants and municipal advisers representing the city at large also engage in city diplomacy." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

It is reported that citizens as well may unite in citizen movements however; they are not actors of city diplomacy, "unless these movements represent the city at large." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) Citizens may however, engage in relations with other actors "on the international political stage through two-sided or multiple-sided interactions. Two-sided city diplomacy is a diplomatic process in which two parties are involved,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Cities in International Politics" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Cities in International Politics.  (2009, December 11).  Retrieved October 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Cities in International Politics."  11 December 2009.  Web.  21 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Cities in International Politics."  December 11, 2009.  Accessed October 21, 2021.