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How urban diplomacy defines international relations globally

Table of contents

List of tables
Setting the stage: The relevance of cities in global affairs
PART I: Cities in global affairs
Chapter 1 Non-state actors in global politics
Global governance and the pluralization of international affairs
Transnational strategies and organizational forms of NSAs
Chapter 2 A world of cities
Demographic and economic trends
From world cities to urban archipelagos
PART II: City diplomacy
Chapter 3 Structural factors of city diplomacy
City diplomacy: Definition and trends
Cities in global governance
Legal dimension of city diplomacy: National trends
Legal dimension of city diplomacy: International trends
Actors, goals & drivers of city diplomacy
Chapter 4 Fields of operations of city diplomacy
Politics: global governance, twinning, networks, and mega events
Economy: Push & pull activities, and territorial marketing & city branding
Culture and environment
Security: from conflicts to covid
Human rights, migration and development
PART III: For the future
Concluding remarks on the cities in the XXI century


While the view that only states act as global actors is conventional, significant diplomatic and cross-cultural activity is taking place in cities today. Economic growth and fiscal experiments all occur in urban contexts. Political reforms, social innovation, and protests and revolutions generate in cities. Criminal activities, terrorist actions, counterinsurgency, missile attacks (indeed, atomic bombs), and wars are centered in big cities. They are sources of global pollution as well as of environmental transformations such as urban gardening. Knowledge production, big data collection, and tech innovation all spur from intense interaction in cities. They are the meeting points between different cultures, religions, and identities.


These increasingly international cities develop twinning networks and projects, share information, sign cooperation agreements, contribute to the drafting of national and international policies, provide development aid, promote assistance to refugees, and do territorial marketing through decentralized city-city or district-district cooperation. Cities do what “municipalities” used to do many centuries ago: they cooperate but also enter into intense competitive dynamics. To understand current sociopolitical dynamics on a planetary level, we need to have two mental maps in mind: the state-centered map and the nonstate centered map. We must take into account the existence of a complex diplomatic regime based on different overlapping levels—the urban and the state.

Raffaele Marchetti is Deputy Rector for Internationalization and Professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Science and the School of Government of LUISS in Rome.

“A comprehensive and compelling treatment of the role of cities and their growing importance on the world stage. The book captures with impressive clarity the many dimensions of city diplomacy, its history, and how it is shaping bilateral and multilateral governance across a range of policy areas and economic relations. A must-read.”

—Sheila Foster, Georgetown University

- Sheila Foster

“As the international relations of local governments are increasingly in the spotlight, much guidance is needed the world over as to how to navigate ‘city diplomacy.’ Marchetti’s succinct primer comes in handy here as a timely and accessible companion for both students and practitioners of global governance to grasp, and embrace, this burgeoning field of action.”

—Michele Acuto, University of Melbourne

- Michele Acuto

“There is much talk of a need for a ‘new’ diplomacy for a world order in disarray. It is usually an over-generalized but under-specified assertion of the importance of nonstate actors. Marchetti’s discussion of city diplomacy addresses this problem in one crucial area. In so doing, he offers an invaluable historical and contemporary contribution to the theory and practice of international relations.”

—Richard Higgott, Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, The Brussels School of Governance

- Richard Higgott

“Marchetti’s new book argues that governance is multilateral, but also multilevel. From climate change to demographic challenges or digital transition, cooperation between local authorities enables the localization of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It also sets the scene for city diplomacy to flourish, whereby mayors use their soft power on the international stage.”

—Filippo Terruso, EU Officer

- Filippo Terruso

"Marchetti’s idea of identifying city diplomacy as a subfield of global politics is remarkable as it helps us to rethink IR itself under the weight of the globalization regime."
—Michel Laguerre, University of California at Berkeley

- Michel Laguerre

"...the book contributes a well-rounded and contemporary collection of thought that helps scholars and practitioners keep pace ahead of the rapidly expanding and evolving sphere of activity by cities in the world affairs." 
European Review of International Studies

- Benjamin Leffel

"Marchetti’s book proves to be a solid theoretical analysis of city diplomacy, as well as inclusive of comparative and complementary concepts as rural and regional diplomacy."
Journal of Public Diplomacy

- Carla Cabrera Cuadrado

Shortlisted: 2023 Pattis Family Foundation Global Cities Book Award

- Center on Global Cities and The Pattis Family Foundation

Watch: Book presentation by the author (Spanish) | 09/29/2021
Read: Book Award Shortlist Spotlight: Interview with Raffaele Marchetti | 09/13/2023