IMFG Paper | 2020

Cities in National Constitutions: Northern Stagnation, Southern Innovation

Around the world, many constitutional orders treat cities – including some of the world’s most significant urban centres – as “creatures of the state.” In the so-called Global South, however, some countries are generating new ideas about the constitutional governance of cities.

In a new paper for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), Ran Hirschl surveys the status of cities in national constitutions and provides a comparative analysis of three significant recent attempts to strengthen the constitutional status of cities in India, South Africa, and Brazil.

The paper finds South Africa’s constitutionalization of city power most effective of the three, and highlights the significance of necessity (the vast majority of urbanization takes place in the Global South), constitutional malleability, and, above all, political will in addressing the constitutional status of cities.

Read the paper

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