Strengthening Foreign Policy through Subnational Diplomacy

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Max Bouchet Senior Policy Analyst and Project Manager, Center for Sustainable Development, The Brookings Institution Washington, DC United States

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National foreign policy actors traditionally neglect the opportunities and challenges that local actors active on the global stage create. Cities and regional authorities have become important international players, engaging in bilateral and multilateral relations outside national borders. They exemplify a style of global co-operation perceived as pragmatic and effective. Subnational diplomacy does not undercut national diplomacy; instead, it can extend it. National governments need their cities and local governments to achieve certain domestic and foreign policy goals related to national security, competitiveness and international development. National governments also need local actors to solve 21st-century challenges linked to promoting democracy and addressing climate change, violent extremism and global migration. National governments should adapt their diplomatic tools and cultivate partnerships with their local governments to leverage their international strength, support their global reach and, where useful, amplify it.

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