Monday, November 01, 2010

Municipal Diplomacy

At the same time as U.S. foreign aid budgets are dwindling, local public officials are seeking policy solutions globally to fix problems at home. These exchanges are encouraging many subnational leaders to engage in foreign policy efforts. Either through sister city programs, connecting with diaspora communities with their home countries or providing aid and disaster relief to war-torn, climate-affected, in- need areas, there is much work that can be done by the sub-national leaders in the United State.

Somewhat dated, Michael Shuman in his book Going Local sites that in the 1980, many U.S. State, county, and local governments involved in foreign policy activities:
 More than 900 localities passed resolutions supporting a “freeze” in the arms race:
 197 demanded a halt to nuclear testing;
 120 refused to cooperate with the Federal Energy Management Activity’s nuclear war exercises;
 126 plus 27 states, divested from ding business in South Africa;
 86 formed linkages with Nicaragua and , along with grassroots activities, provided more humanitarian assistance to Nicaraguan people than all the military aid Congress voted for the contras;
 80, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, demanded cuts in the Pentagon’s budget;
 73 formed sister-city relationships with Soviet cites;
 29 provided sanctuary for Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees;
 20 passed stratospheric protection ordinances phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals;
 and at least 10 established founded offices of international affairs-essentially municipal state departments.

Today’s foreign policy needs show event more need for engagement. With Secretary Clinton’s efforts at 21st century states craft, which includes building partnership across public, private and non-for-profit groups, State and Regional actors may help to promote key areas of diplomacy. State’s priorities including governance, security, intellectual property rights, economic innovation, job creation, and health are also high proprieties of State and Local officials in the U.S. Partnerships can help facilitate and assist additional subnational actors how to engage these topics and many more.

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