The international environment in 2017 is likely to continue to be characterised by change and uncertainty, as evidenced by contemporary political and economic events. These will undoubtedly impact South Africa’s 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.
In 2007, the EU-South Africa Strategic partnership was launched. Aimed at strengthening relations between the two, a number of high-level meetings took place under its rubric. Following the economic crisis of 2008, which is reshaping internal EU country relations as well as its relations with South Africa, and the growing emphasis on South-South solidarity by the Zuma administration, the strategic partnership is increasingly under pressure.
With this relationship reaching its first decade next year, the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, are undertaking a review of the strategic partnership, particularly in understanding what makes it strategic for both the EU and South Africa, and how this has evolved in practice.
This topic is borne out of, and seeks to be a continuation of the discussion generated in the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO) successful 2015 workshop on SA-Zimbabwe relations, in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
China was mentioned by panelists and participants alike several times, in the context of analysing SA-Zimbabwe relations. It is clear that one cannot gain a comprehensive analysis of these regional relations, without including an analysis of both Zimbabwe’s, and South Africa’s, strong bilateral relationships with China, including the three-way dynamics and the regional and international dimensions.
In 2015, the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, hosted a workshop entitled ‘Towards a Participatory Foreign Policy’, aimed at considering the role of a range of stakeholders in shaping South Africa’s foreign policy.
In building on these initial discussions, the SARChI Chair and FES are inviting research papers contributing analysis on the role of these stakeholders, and how these actors have shaped South African foreign policy over the course of the first two decades of democrac
The Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) South Africa Office held a one day seminar on the theme of the United Nations @ 70: Towards a Future, in Pretoria on 27 November 2015. The United Nations (UN) lies at the centre of the global multilateral system of governance. It is viewed as a principle guarantor of the idea of an international system of governance, and the dream of an international society. It is the principal platform through which international values, norms and decisions are made and remade. In 2015, the UN reaches 70 years of existence and this marks a critical point of reflection on the significance of the organisation, its key challenges and prospects for its future.
Civil society played an active role in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is now important to consider the role of CSOs going forward, in ensuring effective implementation. This workshop aims to explore how civil society can leverage on the complementarity between the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda. As SDGs implementation is taking place at national level, and in-country conversations on the role of CSOs are at different levels from country to country, the dialogue will include regional voices to draw lessons and strengthen implementation in South Africa.
The FOCAC Summit held between 3-5 December 2015 coincided with the launching of China’s second Africa policy paper, and became the first time that a FOCAC summit was held on African soil. It came in a watershed year for global development efforts as the year witnessed the Financing for Development meeting in Addis Ababa, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations, the hosting of the Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Nairobi (for the first time in Africa), and the Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris.
Within this broader context, the following policy brief, which arises from a research project between the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), seeks to draw linkages between China’s second Africa policy paper and the declarations of the Johannesburg summit. Thus, it asks what the FOCAC summit managed to achieve, before asking what the way forward is in terms of China-Africa relations. Download the full report here.
The phrase “punching above its weight”, has been invoked by some to denote South Africa’s role in international affairs. Whether one agrees with this assertion or not, it is hard to dispute the fact that South Africa, since 1994, has taken on a huge international responsibility, be it in peace and security or multilateral fora.
Understanding South Africa’s foreign policy priorities and strategic direction is thus an important subject for those with an interest in international political and economic affairs and foreign policy issues in particular.
The Southern African Liaison Office (SALO) is a South African-based not-for-profit civil society organisation which, through advocacy, dialogue, policy consensus and in-depth research and analysis, influences the current thinking and debates on foreign policy especially regarding African crises and conflicts. More details on this event to follow soon.