Concept

Free Private Cities are the next evolution in special economic zones. Imagine a private company offers you the basic services of a state, the protection of life, liberty and property, in a defined territory. You pay an expenditure-based amount for those services. Apart from that, you are free to do as you choose. Your respective rights and obligations are laid down in a contract with the provider. Conflicts about its interpretation go to independent arbitration. Thus, you are a contracting party on an equal footing with a secured legal position, instead of being subject to the ever changing whims of politics. And you only become a part of it if you like the offer.

Territory

In order to initiate this project, a certain autonomy from existing sovereignties has to be secured. It need not entail territorial independence, but it must include the right to regulate the city’s internal affairs. The establishment of a Free Private City therefore requires first an agreement with an existing state. Thereby, the host state grants the operator the right to establish a Free Private City and to set its own rules within a defined territory, ideally with access to the sea and formerly uninhabited. There are already well-functioning precedents for an import of foreign legal systems, such as the special economic zones Dubai International Financial Centre and Abu Dhabi Global Market. If such structures are formed in a previously underdeveloped or unpopulated area, this would also be a significant gain for the host nation: more jobs, more business, more investment, also in the adjacent areas. Special requirements of the host nation are always negotiable, as long as the right to self-regulate internal affairs remains in effect.

Operator

Free Private Cities offer world class governance services, managed by a profit-oriented private enterprise as operator. For an annual contribution, the operator guarantees the protection of life, liberty and property. This may include a basic infrastructure, police, fire fighters, emergency rescue, a legal framework, and independent jurisdiction to enable residents to resolve conflicts and redress grievances through a regulated procedure. Each resident receives a written “resident’s contract” which regulates their mutual rights and obligations, taking into account the special requirements of the host nation. Such offers have to be attractive — otherwise there will be no clients. The profit motive provides the incentive to treat customers well and make careful use of available resources. Free Private Cities and their respective rules might differ with regard to different target groups.