In a new handbook on Cities and International Law, Barbara Oomen discusses how cities have come to play an ever larger role in shaping the international law of refugees and migrants and what promises and perils this process holds. She sets out how and why some pioneering cities have come to invoke and implement international law in dealing with refugees and migration, pointing towards the role of networks in setting standards and developing soft law. Within these networks, cities actively attempt to break the bastion of international law, seeking to influence both procedures and substance. This potentially strengthens the effectiveness and legitimacy of international law, but also runs into limits, discussed in the chapter.
Cities of Refuge colleague Moritz Baumgärtel, in his chapter, provides a structured overview of the analytical issues relating to the potential involvement of cities in international dispute settlement. He discusses the possibilities both for their direct and indirect participation in such proceedings, and he reflects on what local authorities’ engagement with international dispute settlement tells us about international law as a field of practice and academic discipline more generally. The book, edited by Helmut Aust and Janne Nijman, contains many other articles for all interested in local authorities and international law.