The paradiplomacy of subnational actors: the potential and forms of realization

  • I. K. Holovko Oles Honchar Dnepropetrovsk national university
Keywords: diplomacy, region, national-state, jurisdictional capacity, international cooperation


Paradiplomacy can be a difficult subject to discuss, not least because there is sometimes an understandable reluctance to admit that one is engaging in it. The topic of what paradiplomacy is, how it is undertaken, and why it might be important has been studied in the article. It has also been considered why national governments might be opposed to the practice of paradiplomacy by their subnational jurisdictions. Only understanding of what paradiplomacy actually entails, we can see what it can and it can’t offer to localities and regions that are pursuing greater self-determination. As the structure of governance in Europe and the world as a whole becomes to be more complex, new opportunities of creating subnational jurisdictions to increase their powers of self-determination are arising. (Bartmann, 2000; Keating, 1999). For some of them the full independence might be the ultimate ideal, while for others the increased power might be an end in itself. In such case, the paradiplomacy shows a path toward gaining greater standing and influence in the international community. It is not a path, however, that will lead to success in any way, and in some cases paradiplomacy can actually hinder a jurisdiction’s quest for greater international recognition. In addition, a policy instrument is good not only by the policies it advances, but the effective paradiplomacy holds out the ability to overcome effectively bad results, which are particular risky in the case of subnational jurisdictions lacking substantial prior experience on the world stage.Paradiplomacy has been defined as «a political entity’s extra-jurisdictional activation targeting foreign political entities». As paradiplomacy is the specific example of political interaction between unequal partners, which exists outside the internationally accepted political sphere, it is a contested practice by its nature. It has been argued in the article that subnational jurisdictions and sovereign states have absolutely differing policy objectives and that paradiplomacy is the best possibility to achieve policy’s objectives as it allows either to slip beneath the political radar of sovereign states or to acquire the de facto concession of sovereign states. That’s why the more sophisticated paradiplomatic tools (such as pseudo-embassies) are not always more effective in achieving policy objectives than the less sophisticated tools (such as participation in international networks) are. Successful paradiplomatic practice requires a balance of developing political structures and setting concrete policy objectives. The aims of subnational jurisdictions, which want bigger autonomy or independence, can be furthered through the implementation of stronger networks of similar subnational jurisdictions in Europe and all over the world.


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How to Cite
Holovko, I. K. (2016). The paradiplomacy of subnational actors: the potential and forms of realization. Grani, 19(11), 23-29.