Globalization and extensive urbanization worldwide have brought cities to the forefront of global governance in a multilateral system designed and created for states.
Cities have come to exercise power due in part to the inadequacy or ineffectiveness of inter-state action, but also because their democratic nature and immediate connection to the population make them legitimate actors.
Cities are also home to many problems of a global nature, such as greenhouse gas emissions, pandemics, and sustainability. This makes them uniquely situated to address these challenges.
City diplomacy has become a prevalent feature in many global policy issues, ranging from climate change to development cooperation. The primary tool through which cities act is networking, with hundreds of global city networks pursuing the interests and values of their constituencies.
By demanding a seat at the table where global affairs are decided upon, cities challenge and complement the state-based international order, in addition to which they stretch the basic concepts and constructs of both international relations and international law.