city diplomacy

On June 22, 2018 the spotlight will fall on Newcastle and Gateshead – or NewcastleGateshead if you prefer – as it becomes the global showcase for the great contributions of the North of England in art and culture, design and innovation.

To their credit, some cities are also investing heavily in diplomacy. The most effective of them are mapping their civic and commercial assets to determine their comparative advantage. They are also charting out a global vision that is linked to local interests and capabilities. Early adopters of city diplomacy such as Chicago, London, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and Toronto are teaming up with think tanks and private entities to build political, economic, cultural and security ties overseas.

Travel Destination Signs

An online adventure publication looks at old destinations with new eyes.

“Think globally, act locally.’’ This isn’t just a slogan. It’s a deep conviction shared by a growing number of elected officials, experts and citizens around the world: Cities — especially the large ones — can and must play a leading role in solving the complex problems of our time. This new mission is driven by growing urbanization, which is happening world-wide; more than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas.

City diplomacy luminary and Attorney Michael Shuman, a leader of the former Center for Innovative Diplomacy, reminds us that local government participation in foreign affairs is enumerated in and protected by the Constitution. Thus, when American local governments responded to the threat of nuclear annihilation vis-à-vis the U.S. arms race with the Soviet Union, to the federal government’s inadequate response to Apartheid, and to other problems from the federal-level, the resultant municipal activism was not only legal, it was defining of American federalism.

"The largely untold story of Southern California’s unique place in American diplomatic history is now being told," says Ben Leffel.

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