City Diplomacy The Increasing Role Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

The goals at which this process is aimed can concentrate on creating benefits primarily for one party or on creating benefits for both parties.' (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

Multiple-sided city diplomacy is a "diplomatic process in which more than two parties are involved, representing various cities." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) van der Pluijm and Melissen state that associations of municipalities "such as United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), Eurocities or the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities are often one party in such multiple-sided processes of city diplomacy." (2007) van der Pluijm and Melissen state that the definition of city diplomacy leads to the question of how it is that the diplomatic activities of cities "relate to the diplomatic activities of state actors in general and more specifically, MFAs as the main carriers of states' diplomatic functions." It is stated that some believe that the activities of cities in diplomacy serve to infringe upon the central government role and results in the creation of "an adversarial relationship between cities and state actors such as MFAs." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

Yet another view on the city-state actor relationship is that instead of striving against one another over the same piece of property that both actors should engage in activities of diplomacy that are complementary to one another. (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, paraphrased) The power of the state in overseeing and management of international activities has been significantly weakened by the rise of a global economic infrastructure "a phenomenon known as the defective state proposition." (Wang, 2006 as cited in van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) City actors are the entity that is able to take the place of the state in fulfilling its tasks in political areas where the state is no longer able to do so efficiently and effectively. The effect of city diplomacy on the state and city actors' relationship is stated to lay "somewhere in the middle of the two views" described. (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

The need for coordination of the activities of cities and states in diplomacy is important sine foreign policy is known to derive the greatest benefit "from coherence and continuity." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007) Vertical disintegration is said to occur from city involvement in foreign policy since what results in foreign policy being created and executed from more than one level. It is related that cities such as "the municipality of Amsterdam, understand the importance of preventing this, and stress the necessity of local international policy being in line with the international policies of other involved actors, such as embassies, ministries other local authorities and municipal associations. (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

The traditional idea of diplomacy or that in which "the conduct of international relations of states is the main focus-various functions of diplomacy are distinguished. Bull for example distinguishes between the functions of facilitating communication, negotiating agreements, gathering information, preventing conflicts and symbolizing the existence of an international society." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007) City diplomatic behavior is stated to be of the nature that can be compared to the behavior of state diplomats, even though city diplomats are not "officially accredited diplomats and therefore are not part of the official system." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

The legal framework in which city diplomacy takes place is stated to be one that is clearly outlined and the example stated in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Such legal clarity is lacking in the case of city diplomacy." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007) Stated as the first of reasons that this is so is that there are two distinct legal spheres in which cities operate diplomatically:

(1) the national; and (2) the international. (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

In the national arena it is stated that the legal rules are applicable to the diplomatic cities in a different nature from one country to another and while the city in one country may act in an autonomous manner in its engagement in international political activities a city in a different country may be prohibited by national law from achieving its aspirations on an international scale. However, it should be noted that in both cases cities hold no legal identity at the international level and cities are not recognized by international law as holding any type of legal personality whatsoever. Instead, local governments are treated as "mere subdivisions of states and have neither legal standing nor independent presence in formal international institutions." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

There is a great deal of ambiguity in the case where the city interacts internationally in politics. Stated secondly as reason that there is great difficulty in outline the legal framework in regards to city diplomacy is "that the national and international legal grounds on which city diplomacy is based are shifting. Indeed national laws may hinder cities in their diplomatic activities abroad, but national governments increasingly permit and even encourage local government involvement in foreign policy." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

While cities do not hold legal personality in international government the international legal rules are "increasingly extend[ed] over cities. For example, various UN agencies have been established that centre on issues such as local self-government and decentralization of powers, such as UN HABITAT; cities are increasingly internalizing international norms into their local legal systems and enforcing these norms; various associations that represent local governments in global governance projects are appearing and administrative and judicial bodies that regulate the relations between localities and states have become more prominent." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

There are a multitude of reasons that cities engage in diplomacy. First of all, personal engagement is one very likely reason and political issues on the international level are cited as being "crucial in decisions to engage in city diplomacy. The structures in which city diplomacy occurs are less rigid than state structures. Three specifically stated reasons for engaging in city diplomacy are those as follows:

(1) Cities can engage in city diplomacy in order to serve the interests of their city and its community;

(2) Citizens may force their municipal representatives to engage in specific diplomatic activities; and (3) Cities can engage in diplomatic acts out of solidarity with other cities. (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

The resources commanded by a city is what ultimately determines the diplomatic activity of cities. Included in these resources are:

(1) Intangible resources; and (2) Tangible resources. (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

The most visible city diplomats are naturally those who represent the larger cities. The character of the state system is also an important determinant of the extent to which cities become involved in diplomacy." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) van der Pluijm and Melissen have noted that there is a variation in autonomy from one to another city and the degree of the city's autonomy is stated to be very much dependent on the extent "to which a culture of devolution exists in the state in question. Such a culture is expressed in a pattern of formal and informal rules impinging on subnational interests and activities in foreign policy issues. In that context, municipalities..." And specifically in the example stated the Netherlands enjoy greater autonomy and have greater powers that their counterparts in Flanders, because of a stronger Dutch culture of devolution on the municipal level." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

Stated as the third factor which determines the involvement of cities in diplomacy is "the linkages between the central government and the cities. In instances where local interests are very much represented by central governments, the perceived need by cities to engage in city diplomacy is more limited than in those instances where local interests are less represented." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1) It is stated that although this factor strongly relates "to the extent to which a culture of devolution exists in a given state, it focuses more on the nature of the means by which local interests are represented by the central government." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007, p.1)

van der Pluijm and Melissen also stated that the state in which the city is located also has a great influence as each state "has "so-called 'core' and peripheral' regions in terms of politics and economics. Subsequently the location of a city in a either a core or a peripheral region generally influences its role on the diplomatic stage." (van der Pluijm and Melissen, 2007) The extent to which the city has linkages internationally additionally affects the pattern of diplomacy's development in the city and it is stated that a great determinate in this areas is geographical location of the city.

The work entitled: "City Diplomacy Conference Report: A Working Conference of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). Organized by:…

Cite This Research Proposal:

"City Diplomacy The Increasing Role" (2009, December 11) Retrieved February 23, 2018, from

"City Diplomacy The Increasing Role" 11 December 2009. Web.23 February. 2018. <>

"City Diplomacy The Increasing Role", 11 December 2009, Accessed.23 February. 2018,