New digital archives for city diplomacy/subnational government involvement in foreign policy

Benjamin Leffel's picture

Dear H-Diplo community, 

I'm a "city diplomacy" scholar, and for those among you interesed in Cold War era intervention of subnational governments in foreign policy, I am excited to point your attention to two new resources, both digital archives: 

  1. Bulletin of Municipal Foreign Policy (Center for Innovative Diplomacy): The recently digitized Center for Innovative Diplomacy Digital Archive ( contains the Bulletin of Municipal Foreign Policy among other materials, which chronicle in detail the "municipal foreign policy movement" of the 1980s in the US. I used this archive to write my 2018 article on city diplomacy inThe Hague Journal of Diplomacy. It also contains the ICLEI founding documents (, as ICLEI (the world's largest environmental city network) formed as a result of the former Center for Innovative Diplomacy (US network of 6,000 local officials & activists) and the "municipal foreign policy movement." Fun note: IR Scholar Chad Alger, who wrote about city participation in global affairs in International Studies Quarterly and other journals, was actually on the Center for Innovative Diplomacy's Editorial Board for the Bulletin of Municipal Foreign Policy. Hence these materials provide unique insights for scholarship on the subject.
  2. Declassified Subnational Diplomacy Document Cache: My database for several declassified documents (released via FOIA) related to pre-1990s U.S. local governments involvement in foreign affairs, accessible here, includes diplomatic cables, official correspondence and other materials. This includes cables on Apartheid and US Sec of State correspondence with US governors pressuring them not to divest; diplomatic incidents and correspondence between fed and local agencies surrounding diplomatic incidents (such as the Glen Cove NY/Soviet retaliation incident; Chinese intimidation of US governors over Taiwan visits; Iowan engagements with Soviets for public diplomacy); and other related materials.  These materials are particularly relevant as the question of subnational diplomacy is emerging in legislatures around the world; from the USA's "City & State Diplomacy Act" to Australia’s "Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill". 

There are other materials surrounding nuclear nonproliferation, Hiroshima/Nagasaki and Mayors for Peace I've not uploaded, but am working with Hirokazu Miyazaki (Northwestern U, Dept of Anthropology) to develop city diplomacy research on, and of course I'd welcome additional collaborators if there are any interested (just reach out to me at 


Benjamin J. Leffel, Ph.D.

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, 

University of California Merced

Twitter: @BenjaminJLeffel