This dissertation seeks to explain and understand why and how sub-State governments conduct their international relations with external actors, and how federal authorities and local governments coordinate or not in the definition and implementation of the national foreign policy.
It conducts a comprehensive and comparative study of the international relations of sub-State governments (IRSSG) in ten federal systems which are representative of all the regions of the world, stages of economic development and degree of consolidation of their democratic institutions (South Africa (Africa), India and Russia (Asia), Belgium and Germany (Europe), Canada, Mexico, and the United States (North America), Brazil and Argentina (South America), and Australia (Oceania)). It constructs a typology to measure and explain the IRSSG based on the domestic political institutions, especially the constitutional provisions relating foreign affairs and the intergovernmental mechanisms for foreign policy decision making and implementation. Based on the comparative analysis of the ten federations, an in-depth analysis of the Mexican case is done, explaining the variation in the IRSSG of its 32 federal units using economic, political and geographic variables to understand the amount and type of international activities and cooperation mechanisms. This analysis is complemented with the study of the 668 inter-institutional agreements signed by Mexican SSG, a survey applied to the public officials responsible of IRSSG in Mexico, and a case study of Mexico City’s international activities, in order to better understand the preferences, perceptions, capacities, and motivations of Mexican SSG in their internationalization.
There are ten main findings. First, there is a very important variation in the IRSSG and central-local coordination in foreign affairs worldwide. Second, there has been change in the types of central-local coordination during the last decades. Third, the most important causes to conduct IRSSG are globalization, regionalization, and decentralization. Fourth, the democratization variable is a relevant cause for increasing IRSSG in all countries with democracies in process of consolidation; however, it is not as important in the cases of consolidated democracies. Fifth, the predominant motive to conduct IRSSG is to promote local economic development; another important reason is the management border issues; cultural motivation is only relevant in cases where there is cultural variation between SSG. Sixth, institutional creation and building is the norm between SSG to coordinate their international relations; SSG have created ministries or agencies to conduct their international affairs, however, the size, resources, activities and level of consolidation varies considerably between cases. Seventh, there is considerable variation in the international activities conducted by SSG. Eighth, a rationalization of national foreign policy is observed, as the federal government allows SSG to conduct international affairs in those areas where they have powers. Ninth, all countries make a difference between foreign policy (considered an exclusive power and responsibility of the federal government, which includes high politics issues), and international relations or affairs (which include those areas in which SSG have powers, mostly low politics issues). Tenth, all inclusive cases are developed and consolidated parliamentary democracies; all the complementary cases are presidential systems with developing democracies in consolidation (with the exception of the United States); and, the exclusive types have federal systems constitutionally; however, in reality, they function in a very centralized way, practically nullifying federal institutions.