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Occasional Paper | Caught between Afro-Southern Solidarism and Liberal Cosmopolitan values: Four Turning points in South Africa’s Human Rights Foreign Policy

By Professor Chris Landsberg, Director: SARChi Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

South Africa’s foreign policy is entrapped: it is trapped between Afro-Southern (or Africa-South-South) solidarism, on the one hand, and lofty liberal cosmopolitan values, including human rights, on the other. There had long been a tension between the professed values of South Africa’s foreign policy and its interests, a tension that the post-settlement governments had battled to square. Twenty-two years into the post-settlement period, South Africa learnt that good intentions, proclamations and edicts were not good enough in the hurly-burly of world affairs.

The irony is that, one of the lowest points in South Africa’s foreign policy, when it was forced to make clear its intentions to withdraw from the ICC as it tried to avoid a showdown with the Constitutional Court over the al-Bashir matter on 22 November 2016, could paradoxically become one of the most exciting periods in the Republic’s post-apartheid diplomacy.


Read full paper here FES Occasional Paper Series – Landsbergfinal


With its Occasional Paper Series, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung South Africa Office provides analysis and opinion on pertinent issues of South African, regional and global politics.

The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, or the organisation which the author represents.

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