Theory and Practice of Paradiplomacy
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Theory and Practice of Paradiplomacy

Alexander S Kuznetsov

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Theory and Practice of Paradiplomacy

Alexander S Kuznetsov

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About This Book

This book examines and systematises the theoretical dimensions of paradiplomacy - the role of subnational governments in international relations.

Throughout the world, subnational governments play an active role in international relations by participating in international trade, cultural missions and diplomatic relations with foreign powers. These governments, including states in the USA and landers in Germany, can sometimes even challenge the official foreign policy of their national government. These activities, which are regularly promoting the subnational government's interests, have been labelled as 'paradiplomacy'. Through a systematisation of the different approaches in understanding constituent diplomacy, the author constructs an integrative theoretical explanatory framework to guide research on regional governments' involvement in international affairs.

The framework is based on a multiple-response questionnaire technique (MRQ) which provides the matrix of possible answers on a set of key questions for paradiplomacy scholarship. This comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon of paradiplomacy sheds light on the development of federalism and multi-level governance in a new global environment and contributes to the debates on the issue of 'actorness' in contemporary international affairs.

This book will be of much interest to students of diplomacy, federalism, governance, foreign policy and IR, as well as practitioners of diplomacy.

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1 Introduction
Multiplicity of non-state actors in international relations: the choice of paradiplomacy as the main research object
Globalization and regionalization are key driving forces of the modern world that significantly shape the global political, economic and cultural agendas for the development of all nations with just some exceptions such as the marginal states.1 The mutual interconnection of both these global development locomotives and their synergy brought forward the circumstances under which the decisions affecting the functioning of the political, economic, cultural and other spheres become less dependent on national state regulations, but more forced by powers that bloomed tremendously in the last few decades on supranational and subnational (regional) levels.
An immutable priority of the national governments to be the only main players in international affairs has been seriously impugned by different newcomers in the last few decades. In this regard, we can mention Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye who, in the early 1970s, were among the first who argued in their co-edited Transnational Relations and World Politics about the possibility of “transnational relations” among non-state actors like multinational corporations (MNCs).2 Evidently, with this work Keohane and Nye opened the floor for further discussions about new players in international relations. Besides MNCs, the focus of researchers has become largely concentrated on the international impact of transnational NGOs and supranational (transnational) regimes, like the EU or NAFTA, for example.3 Also, the interest in studying the international activities of subnational governments and municipal authorities has grown.4 In the twenty-first century, especially after the events of 9/11, terrorist networks and, generally, transnational organized criminal groups have received incredible attention from political scientists as one of the most influential newborn actors in the global order.5 And the most recent trend is an increasing academic interest in studying “individuals” like, for instance, George Soros or Angelina Jolie as independent competitors in international relations, a phenomenon that is often labeled as celebrity diplomacy.6
There is no doubt that studies on the rise of new global actors are very important for contemporary social science scholarship, because without understanding those changes it is difficult to give a full picture of the situation that is taking place in modern international relations and in domestic affairs of particular countries. What one can see today is that modern states have to navigate in international affairs surrounded by various MNCs, NGOs, supranational bodies, “individuals” and high profile issue of “war and peace” that determined international affairs for ages is challenged by so-called “low politics” matters. In these circumstances, it seems absolutely natural that states are increasingly losing their traditional authority and sovereignty. This partial extinction of sovereign states as major global players raises a rhetorical question about states’ future – some kind of “to be or not to be” for sovereign states. The clash of views between those social scientists who believe in the end of state and those who strongly oppose these perceptions has become an inherent part of mainstream academic discourse in social sciences.7 Moreover, the debate on globalization and its consequences has shifted from purely academic grounds to the area of intellectual consumption for masses. In the last two decades in the global book market a number of best-sellers have been published on world economics and politics, written both by representatives from academia and non-academia, and these volumes received attention from the general public, as it used to be in the past with fiction and love stories.8 Although, there is no lack of opinions on the future of a state and its role in international relations in the anticipated post-state era, that intellectual question is not yet posed by anyone.
This book was written with a strong belief that the crucial mission of political scientists is to describe what is going on and to make an attempt to predict what the potential trajectories of further developments are, and where possible points of bifurcation on its path are. Although the prediction is very hard to complete, and in some cases this mission is impossible by default, it is an important duty of any social scientist to provide the alternative projections on the future changes within and across societies around the world. In other words, scholars should create some discursive practices, the essence of which can be transformed then to reality through a shift from intellectual discourse to policy-makers’ agenda. However, by following the above-mentioned values, scholars should not forget about the feasibility of their research and, accordingly, this book does not intend to cover all issues related to the emergence of the new actors in the global scene and there is no aim to demonstrate the future of the sovereign states in international relations in the epoch of new global tendencies. The focus of this book is merely a single component of the whole intellectual puzzle. This book examines the phenomenon of paradiplomacy in its theoretical and practical aspects and paradiplomacy is the main research object of this work.
Outlook on gaps in paradiplomacy research
Paradiplomacy is generally referred to in the academic literature as the involvement of the constituent units (regions) of national states in international affairs, like the provinces in Canada, states in the US, autonomous communities in Spain, the landers in Germany, the oblasts and the republics in Russia, and so on. The regional governments perform actively in international affairs in different ways: they open trade and cultural missions abroad, sign treaties and agreements with foreign state and non-state actors, they participate in international networks of regional cooperation and they sometimes even challenge the official foreign policy of their central governments through their statements or actions. On the one hand, as Michael Keating vividly mentions:
[…] Unlike the foreign policy of states, regional diplomacy does not seek to represent broad general interests or to be comprehensive in coverage. Regions do not have sovereign governments able to lay down their definition of the “national interest” and to pursue it in a unified and coherent manner. Regions are complex entities containing a multiplicity of groups which may share common interests in some areas but be sharply divided on other issues. Even where there are strong devolved governments, they cannot simply lay down a line to be followed by all but must seek to bring together independent actors around specific programs and issues. They must fit their own activities into a world dominated by national governments and transnational organizations, which they can rarely challenge head on but must work around or with.9
On the other hand, as it will be demonstrated later in this book, paradiplomatic activities, even if they only include the articulation of some regional “private interest,” often represent the force within a state from its bottom level, which plays a significant role in shaping the foreign and domestic policies of the central governments. Ivo Duchacek expresses this idea of the importance of paradiplomacy very precisely by stating that:
[…] they [non-central governments] can hardly compete for public attention with wars, arms talks, international terror and other forms of conflict or cooperation among sovereign nations. Their impact on national foreign policy has remained modest. […] But, these internal concerns with their external dimension significantly affect the welfare of millions, their local and provincial leaders and through them the complex interaction between domestic and foreign politics.10
Another central point consists of the fact that, in comparison with all other new players in international affairs that appeared recently, subnational entities are the only actors who have a state-like nature while all others actors like NGOs or MNCs are non-state ones. Actually, all newcomers in international affairs can be affiliated in different degrees to national governments, for example, transnational bodies such as the EU or NAFTA, clearly have a direct link to certain national governments, but unlike regions they are not a constituent part of the state institutional design. In other words, the head of the provincial government of Quebec, the governor of California or minister-president of Bavaria are the representatives of the states the same way the Canadian and the German prime-ministers and the US president are, but they are the subnational level branch of state power. Hence, it seems fascinating to study paradiplomacy because this phenomenon is not only the major variable for examining contemporary international relations, but also because subnational diplomacy is a crucial factor for understanding those problems related to the interpretation of sovereignty and processes of centralization/decentralization that are taking place within modern states today. Paradiplomacy, in this sense, is a research object that has to be in the scope of interest for representatives from different disciplines – it can be the source of new knowledge for IR specialists, for political comparativists, for students of economics and for many other professionals with various backgrounds in social sciences and humanities.
Despite the high potential of paradiplomacy to be a “sexy” topic for researchers, many experts note that the study of the subnational governments’ activities still does not get the deserved comprehensive scientific coverage. For example Noe Cornago remarks:
[…] Literature on sub-state diplomacy has never attracted mainstream attention in diplomatic studies, nor in the field of international relations, but it has become the subject of scholarly debate. Initially, the most influential works were more descriptive than explanatory in content.11
A similar opinion was expressed by Andre Lecours:
[…] The international activity of regional governments, or paradiplomacy as it has been termed, has been the focus of a modest but growing literature that details various cases and seeks to make sense of the phenomenon. […] However, this literature suffers from two major weaknesses: the first, and most important, is the absence of a general theoretical perspective that can explain how regional governments have acquired international agency, and what shapes their foreign policy, international relations, and negotiating behavior; the second is a lack of focus on constructing general analytical frameworks that can guide the study of paradiplomacy.12
Thus, it seems there is a strong incentive to do research on regional governments’ involvement in international affairs, because there are various white spots on the map of paradiplomacy studies that have not been discovered or tackled until today. By taking into consideration the above-mentioned comments of Lecours and Cornago, the scholarly mission of this book is to cover the existing research gap and provide a study on paradiplomacy which will be in the format of a theory proposing project, supplemented with elements of literature accessing and theory testing. The sequence of the research is as follows. First, the evaluation and systematization of the existing theoretical and empirical literature on paradiplomacy will be conducted. Second, on the basis of this summarization, a theoretical model to explain the involvement of constituent units in international affairs will be proposed. And, third, the proposed explanatory framework of paradiplomacy will be tested by taking under examination the case of the Alberta province paradiplomacy.
The literature accessing mission and the endeavor to construct and to test the integrative model for analyzing constituent diplomacy are probably the most important research tasks that will be addressed in this work. Regarding the literature accessing, as it will be demonstrated later in the book, the paradiplomacy scholarship emerged as a new research field in the 1970s and since that time it has been flourishing and has asserted its own important place in the political science landscape. Scholars with different academic backgrounds (those who used to work on federalism, intergovernmental relations, nationalism, regionalism, international relations, etc.) and with different geographical area interests (Canada, Spain, USA, Germany, etc.) were involved in development of paradiplomacy scholarship. On the other hand, as will be shown in this book, although researchers produced a number of descriptive works and a few theoretical insights on paradiplomacy, the problem in the lack of the systematization of this knowledge is strongly evident. To further illustrate this problem, we can compare the current situation in paradiplomacy studies with the puzzle game, in which players possess many pieces of one whole picture, but may have no idea how this image looks like as a whole till they put all elements in the right order. Figuratively speaking, one of the main goals of this book is to provide as much as possible a full picture of the phenomenon of paradiplomacy by gathering in a systematic manner all academic achievements of the last decades in this field. In order to accomplish this task in this research, an analytical outlook on paradiplomacy studies as an independent subfield in contemporary political science is provided in Chapter 3, and in Chapter 2 the development of the terminology, concepts and discourses within the paradiplomacy scholarship is carefully examined. Also this work studies the evolution of academic interest regarding the problem of participation of subnational governments in international affairs from the moment of its birth until today. In addition, an effort is made to define theoretical schools of paradiplomacy that were shaped as formal or informal networks in academia during that time frame.
Regarding the endeavor to construct and to test the integrative model for analyzing paradiplomacy, this mission is addressed in Chapter 5 by creating an integrated explanatory matrix of constituent diplomacy that may guide the study of paradiplomacy. The proposed theoretical pattern in this book can be considered to be a research tool for conducting case study oriented inquiries on regional involvements in international relations that provide potential an...

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