Project description

The Global City Project explores the relations between cities and global normative frameworks now and in the seventeenth century. Our aim is to understand how global values and norms are constructed and reproduced within global cities, among global cities and between global cities, governments and international institutions.

Today, like four hundred years ago, globalisation and urbanisation impact cities around the world. Both developments affect everyday life within the city as well as the role and position of the city in the world. Cities have always been drivers of globalisation, while at the same time these global developments have challenged city governments and their citizens in multiple ways. While their residents show great diversity in social, economic, political, religious and ethnic backgrounds, recurrent questions are: ‘how to live together?’ and ‘how to create an urban culture of respect and trust?’ These questions have a legal dimension as well. The aim of the project is to grasp what role law can play in the cultivation of such a culture.

In the seventeenth century, the global role of cities and city-based companies contributed to a normative discourse, which drew on different bodies of law, including natural law and the emerging law of nature and nations, ius naturae et gentium. In the discussion, it was a source of normative guidance. Today, international law has developed into a global body that includes human rights values, principles, and obligations to which cities increasingly relate directly, in cases bypassing the governance level of the national state.

The Global City Project is divided into four individual PhD studies, examining the past and the present of the global city. Together, the studies will address a number of related themes: diversity, migration and trade (including the slave trade); political participation and citizenship; the role of law, fundamental rights and duties as a possible source of trust in the global city of the past and present; and, the role and position of the global city in the international (legal) order of the past and present.

The 4-year project started in September 2016 and is funded by the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds. It is conducted at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut.