International city

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For the commercial node point city of the recent era, see global city.

An international city is an autonomous or semi-autonomous city-state that is separate from the direct supervision of any single nation-state.

Rationale for establishment[edit]

International cities had either had one or both of the following characteristics:

  • they were ethnically mixed;
  • authority over the city had previously been contested by different nation-states.

International cities were established mainly in the 1920s and 1940s, following World War I and World War II.

Instruments of state and governance[edit]

Some international cities, such as the Free City of Danzig and the Free Territory of Trieste, had their own currency and practised tariff-free trade.[1]

These international cities had limited self-governance (as in Danzig, with supervision from the League of Nations), or were administered by a body of representatives from external nation-states (as in Shanghai from 1845 to 1944 and the International Zone of Tangier from 1923 to 1957).[2]

Status of Jerusalem[edit]

The United Nations envisioned making Jerusalem into an international city with UN General Assembly Resolution 194 in 1948.[3]

Pope Pius XII supported this idea in the 1949 encyclical Redemptoris nostri cruciatus. It was proposed again during the papacies of John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.[4]

The Vatican's position on Jerusalem was a continuation of its position leading to the Palestinian Mandate. The Vatican's idea for an international commission to resolve claims on the Holy Places had been incorporated in article 95 of the Treaty of Sèvres, and repeated as articles 13 and 14 of the Mandate. However, Britain never gave any effect to the provision. At the time of the proposals that culminated in the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine of 1947, the Vatican and the Italian and French governments continued to press their own legal claims on the basis of the former Protectorate of the Holy See and the French Protectorate of Jerusalem.


Similar concepts[edit]

International cities may be essentially a form of condominium, a territory where ultimate sovereignty is jointly held by more than one state. In the case of international cities, the sovereignty might lie with one or more foreign states, or with an international body such as the League of Nations or United Nations.


  1. ^ "Economics of an Internationalized Jerusalem," Richard J. Ward, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Oct., 1971), pp. 311-317
  2. ^ Carsten Stah, The Law and Practice of International Territorial Administration: Versailles to Iraq and Beyond pp. 7-8, Cambridge University Press, 2008 ISBN 978-0-521-87800-5
  3. ^ Gregory Kane, "Hearing the Sounds of Silence at Middle East Conference" Virginia Gazette International City, Gurgaon, India November 28, 2007,0,6834786.column
  4. ^ Vatican hails UN Palestine vote, wants guarantees for Jerusalem
  5. ^ a b c

See also[edit]