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In recent decades, cities have become a critical site through which contemporary international aspirations are pursued. Increasingly, cities are asserting themselves as international actors while also coming to be regulated by global lawmaking processes. This subject offers an in-depth inquiry into international law and global governance, viewed through the lens of the city. Relevant both to scholars and practitioners, the course critically assesses the international legal framework in which cities in the global north and south are coming to be enmeshed, with a focus on the city-scale governance of climate change, urban security, human rights and the financial sector.
The subject will combine interactive lectures with group presentations, invited speakers and the use of documentaries and new media. Readings will be drawn from law and a wide range of other disciplines, including international relations, history, geography, development, sociology, anthropology, architecture, planning and philosophy. The more theoretical texts will be complemented by primary sources allowing students to develop a close reading on one of the most topical developments in contemporary global governance and international law.
Principal topics include:
- Cities, International Law and Global Governance Today
- Cities and the Evolution of the International Legal Order: From State Sovereignty to a Transformation of the International Legal Order from Below
- Cities and Liveability: Human Rights and the Emergence of the Right to the City
- Cities and Climate Change: Between the Paris Agreement and the Local Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals
- Cities and Security: Law, Governance and the Architecture in Quest of Safe Spaces
- Cities and Finance: Governing the Financial Sector through and for Cities
Intended learning outcomes
Upon completion of the subject, students are expected to demonstrate:
- A specialised knowledge of contemporary mechanisms of global governance and how they impact on cities and are shaped by cities
- A sophisticated understanding of how cities have begun to assert themselves as internationally relevant actors and how this assertion has been received in international law and domestic legal orders
- An advanced and critical understanding of what global cooperation between cities can contribute to the solution of today's global problems, such as in the climate change context
- An integrated and advanced understanding of how international organisations, such as the IMF and the World Bank, are shaping the conditions for the international endeavours of cities and how this affects the relationship between states and cities across the world
- A critical and analytical understanding of the financial, demographic, social and political challenges faced by cities and local residents as a result of the reallocation of developmental responsibilities to the local level by national governments and international institutions
- A critical awareness of the acuteness of these developments in global south municipalities
- A specialised ability to critically assess competing conceptions of the global and the local
- A specialised and sophisticated awareness of how the emergence of cities as international actors changes the conditions for the conduct of foreign policy by nation states.
Last updated: 16 September 2023