By the BROAD-ER Team
The policy involvement of urban governments, in issues neglected by national governments such as migrant/refugee provisions or integration is observed in multiple cities. The United Nations’ 11th Sustainable Development Goal for 2030 addresses the significance of urban-level governance in the goal titled, “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. In addition, urban politics processes are emerging within the scope of the overall decoupling of migration governance, among other issues, from nation state-centred approaches. Central governments also facilitate this decoupling by outsourcing tasks, responsibilities and costs to the private sector (privatization and deregulation processes) and local governments. Moreover, at the urban level, local governments, community organizations and businesses may seek to become more autonomous, because i) the national government is systematically unreliable, due to its political agenda, and accordingly ever-changing policies; ii) of the central governments’ lack of interest in long-term planning given changing political agendas; and iii) of the neoliberal urge to encourage non-governmental actors to take up its role. Within the scope of this project, these autonomy-building processes will be explored by examining several central topics at the intersection of different disciplines including international relations, geography, political science and sociology. This project will bring an interdisciplinary perspective to this scope and will assess three main processes where cities attempt to develop autonomy and decouple from national governments:1. Internationalization of Cities: Cities are bound by the laws and regulations of their respective governmental and supra-national structures. In traditional international relations, cities rarely engage directly with other countries. However, they are currently challenging the roles of national governments, directly or indirectly, by engaging in international activities without including or accounting for national governments. Within the scope of city diplomacy, cities are increasingly moving towards forming more international, bilateral and multilateral relations with other cities as well as international organisations especially in the field of migration. The network of cities and city alliances with non-governmental and civil society organisations active in the field of migration governance are increasingly becoming more common, necessitating analysis. In addition, the area of city diplomacy or city international relations is largely unexplored in migration studies. 2. Establishing New Relations between the National and the Local and Increasing autonomy from national governments: “City governments are constrained entities, as their autonomy is limited by authority at higher levels”. However, cities, within their “officially recognised administrative and jurisdictional boundaries” engage in urban politics which can be analysed through a “lens of demarcation”. They increasingly seek autonomy, adapting to diverse new roles, and developingpolicy solutions for emerging urban challenges. They frequently develop more efficient approaches to responding to transnational problems in comparison to nation-states. 3. Detachment from Formal Governance by Independent Actors: Urban-level local actors such as business people and community organizers continuously develop new responses to their needs and the challenges they face at the local level, without including the urban government. This may involve urban planning such as developing a local park, a local library, a community centre, or even extend to the integration of arriving migrants or refugees. In many cases, they seek to avoid involving governments due to perceived slowness and ineffectiveness of the responses thereby opening new paths or developing innovative approaches to diverse challenges. This understanding of “do-it-yourself” city governance through private groups’ new community-developing structures is becoming an increasingly relevant phenomenon with regard to the local governance of migration. With a transnational/ urban diplomatic twist, this issue becomes more significant and provides an avenue to initiate cutting edge research of current and in process phenomenon.
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