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The City and State Diplomacy Act in Congress Reflects a New World Order

If the City and State Diplomacy Act becomes law, the Office of Subnational Diplomacy it creates would give cities a formal role in U.S. international diplomacy.
At the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on October 9, 2019.
At the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on October 9, 2019.Jose Luis Magana/AP

A new bipartisan bill introduced to Congress this year would allow cities and states to have a greater voice in diplomatic missions abroad and, more broadly, the international policy-making process. This is particularly timely given that our national government, and indeed the national governments in many nations, are reneging on their responsibility to adequately represent their citizens’ interests abroad and to find solutions to our shared global challenges, all of which are most intensely experienced in cities.  

If passed, the City and State Diplomacy Act would create an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the U.S. State Department. The Office would generate exchanges and cooperation agreements between subnational U.S. leaders and their foreign counterparts; promote trade and investment in the U.S.; maintain and work with international networks; coordinate resources; and help generate and execute global subnational agreements with foreign countries. This is especially useful given that, in the current political climate, foreign partners increasingly view engagement with U.S. mayors and governors in the U.S. as essential to maintaining support for issues including free trade, human rights, and climate initiatives.