Yellow banner with pen and letters

Author: Marie Muller

Current developments in South African diplomacy


As the new South Africa adapts to an ever-changing regional, continental and global environment, this paper reviews current developments against the background of the historic situation and of the evolution of diplomacy world-wide.


South Africa underwent historic and radical change both in its domestic political and social structures and in its objective and perceived role and position in the world since the beginning of the nineteen-nineties. These changes have been reflected in South African external relations and in the conduct of South African diplomacy. The country has made an impressive transition from one of the most isolated in contemporary history to a fully integrated member of the international community conducting what its foreign policy makers term a “universal foreign policy.” The conduct of South African diplomacy has also been changed in many ways: whereas it was previously an interesting case study of “pariah diplomacy,” it has now become more conventional though no less interesting. In the interim between the historic February 1990 speech by President De Klerk and the April 1994 democratic elections and the coming to power of the ANC led government under President Mandela, changes were already beginning to occur. However, the more thorough-going changes would come after May 1994. The situation more than three years hence remains dynamic. Current developments, as the new South Africa adapts to an ever-changing regional, continental and global environment, are reviewed against the background of the historic situation and of the evolution of diplomacy world-wide.


The historic and radical changes which South Africa underwent since the beginning of the nineteen-nineties both in its domestic political and social structures and in its objective and perceived role and position in the world, have been well-documented by now, as have the radical changes in the international arena which accompanied the end of the Cold War. The practice of diplomacy has been evolving world-wide in response to the latter changes. Current developments in the conduct of South African diplomacy are shaped by all of these, domestic and international. South African diplomacy remains dynamic and will continue to evolve and adapt.

There is a particularly sharp contrast between pre-political transition and post-political transition South African diplomacy. This has been explored elsewhere(1)  and may be summarised here: the “old” South African diplomacy had been secret and low-key, the “new” is characterised by summitry and a powerful role for the head of state; the “old” had particular difficulties in Africa and Southern Africa and interaction with the region was often characterised by the use of force, whereas the “new” has a strong regional focus, with “preventive diplomacy” as an innovative feature; the “old” was primarily bilateral, whereas the “new” has a very strong emphasise on the multilateral. In addition, one could also mention that the “new” South African diplomacy was heralded by a rapid extension of formal relations and representation abroad for a country which had formerly been the most isolated in modern times. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Service have also been made more inclusive of all sections of South African society and a greater role for parliament and public opinion in foreign policy making has been emphasised. It has been accepted that a great measure of openness and transparency in foreign affairs should be the goal. Nowadays there is hardly the same need for various forms of “unconventional diplomacy” as in the old days, as the “new” South Africa has few enemies. However, this has not prevented some innovation in diplomacy; South African diplomacy is in many ways subject to special tensions and these can manifest, amongst other things, in innovativeness. Herein will lie its contribution to modern diplomacy, which is by nature continuously evolving in response to the needs of the times(2)  and is in the final instance shaped by all participating in it.

In this paper current South African diplomacy is reviewed against the background of the historic situation and of the evolution of diplomacy world-wide. The following will be looked at briefly: current developments in South African foreign policy, some issues and incidents and how these impact on the way in which South Africa communicates with the rest of the word, i.e., South African diplomacy; current developments in the South African Department of Foreign Affairs, its structure, problems encountered, personalities involved and including the deployment of South African missions abroad; the use of direct communications and technology; official visits abroad as well as visitors to South Africa, with special emphasis on summitry; South Africa’s increasing involvement in international organisations, conferences and agreements and the implications of this for South African diplomacy. The paper will conclude with some remarks regarding the future of South African diplomacy.

Current Developments in South African Foreign Policy: Some Issues and Incidents

Olivier and Geldenhuys described the evolution of South African foreign policy as follows:

For symbolic and political reasons, the South African foreign policy continuum, which existed since autonomy from British rule, had to come to an end with the accession of the new ANC-dominated Government of National Unity (GNU) in 1994. The old regime’s foreign policy and culture had to make way for political legitimacy defined by the ANC’s vastly different political philosophy, external experience, constituency, and priorities.(3)

A radical ideologically driven foreign policy was probably prevented by the necessity of adaptation to the new post-Cold War world environment, a change which took place almost in tandem with South Africa’s domestic transformation and implied a far more complex external environment.(4)  However, the new government did bring about important philosophical shifts and many changes in emphasis and priorities: the old regime was “philosophically right-wing oriented, uncompromisingly pro-Western, critical to the point of being hostile to the Third World and its causes, and sceptical about universal liberal ideals such as human rights and gender issues.”(5)  The shift in policy implied that priority would now be given to the African continent and in particular Southern Africa, to the southern hemisphere, the Non-Aligned Movement, and to universal moral and humanitarian issues.(6)  This had a substantial impact on the frequency and nature of contacts between South African leaders and their counterparts in the areas of priority, and on South African involvement in international organisations, conferences and agreements.

A lively debate has been taking place amongst academics and other observers of South African foreign policy regarding how consistent and substantial support for universal liberal ideals and human rights has actually been and the broad consensus seems to be that, although the rhetoric is still there, actual practice has shown that the new South African government may be influenced quite substantially by old friendships on the one hand and pragmatism on the other.(7)  The pragmatism has probably been brought on by economic imperatives as well as some rather disappointing failures in foreign policy (or diplomacy?). A case in point is the Nigerian case where President Mandela’s strong stance and attempt to get support for strong action against the Nigerian regime after the hanging of the political dissidents, came to nothing and turned into a loss of face. There is no room here to go into the debate, the merits of the “broad consensus” mentioned or the question what South African should be doing with regard to its “human rights foreign policy.” The important issue here is how South African foreign policy, such as it is, has shaped her diplomacy. As will become clear below, policy and implementation (diplomacy) have in some cases been mutually influential.

Foreign policy issue areas in which the new South Africa has made special efforts and has had some considerable success, have included non-proliferation and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and of conventional weapons, including land-mines. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa’s policy of non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control forms an integral part of its commitment to democracy, human rights, sustainable development, social justice and environmental protection.(8)  The primary goal of this policy is to reinforce and promote South Africa as a responsible producer, possessor and trader of advanced technologies in the nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional arms fields and in implementing it high priority is given to nuclear, chemical, biological, missile delivery systems non-proliferation, conventional arms export control, small arms non-proliferation as well as working towards a ban on anti-personnel landmines.(9)  According to a document on this aspect of policy,(10)  South Africa is generally accepted by countries from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as well as the developing world, especially the Nuclear Weapons States, as a leader in the field. South Africa is seen as having the standing and the capacity to promote dialogue and interaction between the developed world on the one hand, while on the other, address the concerns of the developing world that they do not acquire the technology they need for their development. The South African government, therefore, supports all bilateral and multilateral initiatives to prevent the proliferation and development of such weapons on the one hand and to promote total disarmament of these weapons on the other.

South Africa’s strong stance in the area of disarmament and arms control has not meant that it ceased to function as an arms trader; as has been mentioned it merely implied that it would act as a “responsible arms trader.” The sale of arms is, therefore, supposed to take place according to a fixed set of criteria.(11)  However, the application of these criteria and the resulting decisions about whom to sell to, may not necessarily correspond with what others, notably the United States (US), would want to see happen. This has resulted in some diplomatic difficulties for South Africa, as in the case of the leaking of information on the possible sale of arms to Syria and the resultant tension in relations with the US.(12)

As far as the impact of the shift in foreign policy on bilateral relations was concerned, it was more a question of adding than changing.(13)  The old South Africa was very isolated and even ties with the Western countries were restricted. Immediately after the 1990 De Klerk speech, which heralded real political change in South Africa and started the country on the road to regaining respectability in the international community, existing ties were beginning to be restored to normal and some new ties (such as with Eastern Europe, due to changes there) were being forged.(14)  After 1994, the new government did not bring about changes in a zero-sum fashion.(15)  Relations with the West were not downgraded – in fact, in some ways these relations have been raised to “a higher plateau than previously.”(16)  However, many new ties were forged, including the cementing of relations with countries formerly known for their animosity toward Pretoria and including some so-called pariah states. Most African states (including the “pariah” Libya), India, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Mexico and Cuba, are examples of the new additions.(17)  This “universal foreign policy” made necessary a vast extension of South African diplomatic communications (permanent and ad hoc). However, resource and other constraints (such as the lack of sufficiently trained and experienced personnel) and special circumstances in individual cases, resulted in some difficulties. In addition, relations with the “pariahs” have put a strain on South Africa’s relations with the United States, necessitating some diplomatic manoeuvring.(18)

The much debated and analysed love/hate triangle between South Africa, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China/Taiwan, is another interesting foreign policy and diplomatic case study.(19)  It took the new South African government quite some time to finally make a decision on the issue: prior to the political change in South African diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level had been maintained with Taiwan and this was retained after 1994. In the meantime a “special type” of diplomatic representation was exchanged with the PRC. At the end of 1996 the decision was finally made to opt for full diplomatic relations with the latter and to downscale relations with Taiwan. At the end of 1997 this came into effect and the special type of representation was now in place for Taiwan.(20)

Current Developments in the South African Department of Foreign Affairs: Structure, Problems and Personalities

Reorganisation and restructuring are not new to the South African Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA): since its establishment in 1927 it had continuously been adjusted to changing circumstances and perceptions about the best way to organise it.(21)  In summary, by the late 1980’s the DFA closely reflected South Africa’s unique position and the country’s perception thereof. It was basically organised along geographic lines and it was quite noticeable, therefore, that some regions of the world were hardly regarded as worth much concerted effort, that international organisations generally got rather limited attention, and that those who organised the Department did not think in terms of global issues. Of course, South Africa could not always choose to have relations with foreign countries, as it was actively isolated by many. The TBVC states (the “independent” homeland created by South Africa, but recognised by none except South Africa and each other) occupied a relatively large number of people in the Department.(22)

Immediately after 1990, some changes began to occur in the Department, one of which was the “upgrading” of multilateral affairs from a directorate to a chief directorate (1991). However, it was still housed within the Branch: Overseas Countries and the range of issues reflected in its structure was not yet as extensive as it is today.(23)  By March 1992 there was a complete Multilateral Affairs division, separate from the Branch: Overseas Countries and gradually the range of issues provided for were being extended.(24)  Other changes were also being effected to provide for new ties being forged: Eastern Europe, which had previously been conspicuously absent from the organisational chart of the DFA, appeared early on and the Africa Branch had shown considerable growth.(25)  Other more subtle changes were that a greater awareness of the different countries in, for example, Asia was manifest from the structuring of the section responsible for relations with that part of the world, and the fact that, at that time, the Middle East was apparently increasingly seen as part of Africa.(26)

After the political transition of 1994, the political map of South Africa changed and the TBVC “states” were “reincorporated” into South Africa and “disappeared” from the organisational chart of the DFA. The way in which the various sections of the Department were listed, also seemed to suggest a shift in emphasis: Branch: Africa was listed before Branch: Overseas Countries, the Multilateral section was listed before any bilateral sections and within branches where multilateral sections were also included, the latter were listed before the bilateral component.(27)  Perhaps one should not make too much of this; however, what other feasible explanation can one think of except a change of perception, albeit unconscious? Fact is that multilateral relations remained a growth area and the relevant section of the DFA was further expanded and diversified.(28)  By early 1996 the Multilateral Branch, taken together with the division of Branch: Africa and the Middle East which concerned itself with multilateral relations, almost balanced those sections of the DFA burdened with bilateral relations.(29)

Reference has already been made to the fact that the new government did not follow a “zero-sum” foreign policy, but rather a “universal” one, which implied that ties with Western countries were not downgraded at the expense of the forging of new ties with countries which had distanced themselves entirely from the old South African regime. This approach was reflected in the fact that ample provision which was still made at head office for relations with North America and (Western) Europe, in spite of all the new additions, such as Africa, Asia and the Far East.(30)

Towards the end of 1997 an organisational chart of the DFA listed five Branches (Bilateral Relations (Africa); Bilateral relations (Americas & Europe); Bilateral Relations (Asia & Middle East); Multilateral Relations; Administration. Also listed were two Chief Directorates (Legal Affairs and Corporate Liaison) and a Sub-Directorate (Work Study) independent of the branches.(31)  Effective from 1 December 1997, a Democratic Transformation section was also added.(32)

The breakdown of these divisions, when looked at in detail, amply illustrates the extension of South Africa’s foreign relations to include all regions of the world, many functional aspects and a great intensity of interaction.(33)  However, this is not a static picture. Budgetary problems will probably prevent too much further extension, but will hopefully not cause shrinkage. The organisational chart of the Department is, as in the past, continuously changing in its detail. A prime example of this is the change which was effected in the Multilateral Branch in January 1998 and which entailed the scrapping of the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) Sub-directorate as a subsection of the Directorate ASAS, NAM and the Commonwealth – which in turn had formed part of the Chief Directorate: Multilateral Political and Security Affairs – and replacing it with a separate Chief-Directorate of Branch: Multilateral Relations.(34)  This was, of course, directly due to the capacity required in South Africa to organise the NAM Summit in 1998 and also to support the Chairmanship of the Movement thereafter.

The DFA’s capacity to handle the many and varied challenges resulting from the extension of the country’s relations with the external world, has been sorely taxed. The Department has had to deal with the challenges of the process of integration of six different “diplomatic services” – those of South Africa, the four TBVC “states,” and the ANC’s “foreign service” – all of which came with different levels of training and experience and, of course, with often divergent perceptions of the world and the role South Africa should play in it.(35)  All of this had to be dealt with at the same time as the DFA was subject to very serious budgetary constraints due to the great need for funds to get the Reconstruction and Development Programme off the ground. The DFA is also subject to constant criticism and is often in the news due to rumours and accusations about appointments, the ineffectiveness of the Minister and his possible replacement, and the stepping down of and successor for the Director-General, Mr. Rusty Evans – who had stayed on after 1994.(36)  After months of speculation about when Mr. Evans would vacate his post, where he would go and who would succeed him, the Director-General finally retired towards the end of 1997 and he has been temporarily replaced by one of the Deputy Directors General in the DFA, Ms. Thuthu Mazibuko.(37)  It is now rumoured that a permanent appointment may soon be under way in the person of Mr. Jackie Selebi, currently Ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

South Africa’s overseas missions grew quite spectacularly from 1990 onwards: in 1990 South Africa had representation in only thirty states and by 1997 this had grown to 160 states.(38)  This meant ninety-six missions, including a mission accredited to the Palestine National Authority and located at Ramallah on the West Bank, and five multilateral missions: New York (United Nations), Geneva (United Nations), Addis Ababa (OAU), Brussels (European Communities, including the European Union) and Vienna (International Atomic Energy Agency).(39)  The ninety bilateral missions were made up of twenty-four in Africa,(40)  forty-five in America and Europe,(41)  and twenty-one in Asia and the Middle East.(42)  Many of these bilateral missions are actually accredited to more than one country, which accounts for the 160 countries South Africa is represented in.(43)  This is in very many cases a cost saving practice and certainly not uncommon. The result is that South Africa has been able to establish representation (including diplomatic and consular representation) in all but twenty-two states in the world, “a number that includes some very small states and none of major significance to SA, except Iraq.”(44)  This number also includes some potential trouble spots, such as North Korea and Haiti, several Pacific island states, three African countries (Liberia, Somalia and Sierra Leone), and some central American states, including El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.(45)

South African representation abroad is a good illustration of the country’s “universal foreign policy” though it is clear that economic pragmatism weighs heavily in the allocation of missions abroad. According to the DFA, the expansion process has been slowing since 1995 and is now all but over.(46)  There is no doubt that financial considerations play an important role in this, though it is not necessarily the only consideration. South Africa is now facing some new dilemmas, including the problem that there is not full reciprocity in the country’s foreign representation: there are a number of countries maintaining a presence in South Africa despite the fact that South Africa has no representation in those countries, and there is also not full reciprocity as to the status of representation.(47)  In addition there is great disparity in residential and non-residential representation.(48)  Of course, reciprocity is not an absolute rule in diplomacy, but too great a disparity could well be cause for growing irritation in the long run. Only time will tell whether South Africa will address the problem by increasing its overseas representation or whether some other countries will in due course end their representation in South Africa due to the disparity.

In answer to budgetary pressures, it was reported in the press in early 1997, South Africa was keen to discuss sharing resources with other SADC countries, possibly by accrediting South African representatives to the embassies of other countries in exchange for allowing representatives of SADC countries to share South Africa’s resources.(49)  However, nothing has apparently as yet come of these plans of sharing missions as a moneysaving idea. The idea may be taken up again in future.

With regard to permanent foreign representation, mention should in conclusion be made of the nature of the missions exchanged between South Africa and the two Chinas. As was explained before, the new South Africa initially continued diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level with Taiwan – a “left-over” of the old South Africa. However, in 1991 an informal representation agreement was concluded with the PRC and in March 1992 informal offices were established in the form of a South African Centre for Chinese Studies in Beijing and a Centre for South African Studies in Pretoria.(50)  From 1 January 1998 South Africa and Beijing exchanged embassies and the respective missions in Taiwan and South Africa have been downgraded to a liaison office. Initially it had been hoped, (by Taiwan in particular) that relations could be maintained at a level just short of diplomatic relations. However, Beijing had consistently exerted pressure on South Africa in this regard and Taiwan got rather less than it had hoped for.(51)

The Use of Direct Communication and Technology

The Nigerian debacle in November 1995, when President Mandela made a call for strong action against the Nigerian regime at the Commonwealth Summit in Auckland, New Zealand, occurred after lengthy and ineffectual “quiet” diplomacy by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. However, the President had apparently not consulted directly with his regional neighbours prior to his scathing indictment of the Abacha regime and his call for sanctions on Nigeria. Up to then he had apparently been in the habit of doing so, often by telephone, and this included the successful 1994 diplomacy with regard to the “King’s coup” in Lesotho.(52)  The lack of support from his regional counterparts in the Nigerian case would seem to indicate that perhaps in this case he did not consult directly with them prior to his public action. Should this be the reason for failure in this case – rather than its being a case of foreign policy failure – this may illustrate very well the working of the so-called “Mandela magic” so often referred to.(53)  In the case of Nigeria then, a failure of diplomacy – strong action at a summit without prior direct consultation with other African leaders putting the “Mandela magic” to work – may well have led to change in policy – the subsequent weaker stand by South Africa on the issue.(54)

In addition to using the more conventional direct communications media, such as the telephone, the DFA has apparently also been working towards gearing themselves for the new technology, such as the electronic media. This may be deduced from the inclusion in the organisational chart of the Department, within the Branch: Administration, of a Directorate: Telematics and a Directorate: Information Technology.(55)  Such sections were apparently not present in the Department in, for example, 1995.(56)  The electronic medium is obviously intended for easier communications within the DFA (including communications with the missions). However, it could also be used for diplomacy as such and information technology is now getting increasing attention in this context. A DFA Website is envisaged for May/June 1998.

Visits and Visitors:

the Prominent Role of Summitry

Another manifestation of the awareness of the value of the “Mandela Magic” referred to above, is the great use to which summitry as a form of diplomacy is put by the new South Africa. Elsewhere this has been described as one of the main characteristics of the new South African diplomacy.(57)  This form of diplomacy has been used in the implementation of many aspects of South African diplomacy, but probably most noticeably to further South Africa’s economic interests (trying to put to work the “Mandela Magic”), to forge relations with countries in Africa and the rest of the Third World (underlining the importance of these relations by adding the symbolic value of diplomacy at the highest level), and in South Africa’s role as regional agent for peace (which, of course, also implied the putting to work of “Mandela magic” in trying to bring about resolution of conflict). With regard to the latter aspect, it should be noted that expectations concerning the role South Africa could and should play in peacemaking and peacekeeping have been very high. Apart from noteworthy diplomatic initiatives – often at the level of head of state – in the case of Nigeria, Lesotho, the Great Lakes area, and Zaire, South Africa has been reluctant to don the mantle of peacekeeper and commit much resources other than the diplomatic to such issues. However, this could change in future.(58)

According to one source, between them the President and Deputy President/s paid forty-six foreign visits in the period of eighteen months from January 1996 to June 1997.(59)  These included both summit conferences (often relating to the region) and (bilateral) state visits. It is quite noticeable from the list that visits to important economic and trading powers in Europe and the US were the object of many of these; however, African countries also featured strongly. The latter category of visits included a number of Southern African summits, two OAU (Organisation of African Unity) summits, and visits by Deputy President Mbeki to Zaire and President Mandela to the Republic of Congo to meet with President Mobutu Sese Seko and Mr Kabila in an attempt to broker peace and a democratic transition. President Mandela also undertook a state visit, in February-March 1997, to the Phillippines, the Sultanate of Brunei, the Republic of Singapore and the Federation of Malaysia. The visit was – in the days prior to the economic crises in Asia – aimed at furthering the economic interests of South Africa.(60)  According to press reports President Mandela and Deputy President Mbeki paid at least another ten foreign visits later in 1997.(61)  President Mandela visited Indonesia in June 1997 to aid the peaceful solution of the East Timor question, visited Switzerland in September 1997, Libya, Egypt, Morocco and Scotland (for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in October 1997, and Saudi Arabia in November 1997; and Deputy President Mbeki visited Algeria, Mali, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Germany and Austria, and Gabon, between July and November 1997. He also visited Germany to co-chair the inaugural meeting of the South African/German Binational Commission on 1 October 1997. Quite obviously the Deputy President carries the brunt of summitry at the present time.

At the level of head of state or government or deputy head of government, some eleven visits were paid to South Africa in the period February to November 1997, according to DFA media statements. These included visits from the King of Sweden, the presidents or vice-presidents of Finland, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo and Indonesia, and the prime ministers or deputy prime ministers of Singapore, Saudi Arabia and India.

Summit conferences and state visits are however not the only forms of ad hoc diplomacy employed by South Africa. Many visits, at many different levels, have been taking place, both of South Africans abroad and by foreigners to South Africa. Some were bilateral in nature and others multilateral, involving more than two parties at the same meeting. One source lists thirty-seven overseas visits for the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs in the period January 1996 to April 1997 and this included visits to many African and European, as well as other countries.(62)  In some of these cases the Minister accompanied the State President. These visits also included attendance at the funeral of the late King of Lesotho in January 1996, participation in the Joint Permanent Commission between Iran and South Africa, and in the 51st Regular Session of the UN General Assembly. According to the same source the Deputy Minister paid eleven visits to foreign countries between May 1996 and April 1997 and these included visits to Ghana, Botswana, the United Kingdom (London), the US (Atlanta, Washington), Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Nigeria, India, Rwanda and Togo.(63)  After April 1997 DFA media statements and/or the South African press also reported at least nine visits by the South African Foreign Minister and/or Deputy Foreign Minister to foreign countries including Pakistan, the UK, Indonesia and Thailand, Kenya, Swaziland, Ukraine, the US, Zimbabwe, and Canada. In July 1997 a delegation of 130 officials went to Washington to attend the fourth US/SA Binational Commission meeting – the Commission had been founded in 1994.(64)  A December 1997 meeting to the US for Deputy Minister Pahad entailed leading a government delegation to hold discussions with the US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs concerning the resolution of the (long standing) Armscor case.(65)  This was aimed at normalising defence trade relations between the two countries.

There were also reports/media statements on a variety of official visits by foreigners to South Africa at levels lower than deputy president or deputy prime minister during 1997 and early 1998. These included visits from Portugal, Norway, Libya, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Australia, Mozambique, Thailand, Egypt, Algeria, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Indonesia, Iran, Zambia, Hungary, the Peoples Republic of China, Italy and Russia, as well as of officials representing various international organisations. It also included a visit by Zairean opposition leader Kabila in May 1997 – that is, before he became president – and by Indonesian opposition leaders in July 1997.

Given the expectation that international interactions will continue to increase in frequency and intensity and given the assumption that South Africa will not be marginalised, foreign visits to and from South Africa will probably increase even further in future. Depending on the diplomatic style of the future Head of State (probably Thabo Mbeki, after April 1999) and his deputy or deputies, this may also hold true for summitry. In the interim between now and the 1999 elections, President Mandela’s health will doubtlessly be a factor in determining how many visits he will personally undertake, and the Deputy President will in all likelihood continue to make the more frequent contribution to South African summit diplomacy.

International Organisations, Conferences and Agreements: the Importance of Multilateralism

As was mentioned before, the Multilateral Branch of the DFA has become very prominent and active largely as a result of the shifts in South African foreign policy as well as the fact that South Africa is once more acceptable in international society and has joined a great many international organisations. This is a reflection of the importance attached to membership of international organisations, the demands of effective participation in international conferences, the need for the conclusion of many new agreements in a globalising world, and the special importance the new government attaches to certain issues (such as non-proliferation and disarmament). South Africa has concluded increasing numbers of international agreements,(66)  many of them multilateral, and has in fact been called to positions of leadership in some important international fora. This includes the election of South Africa as Chairperson of SADC (Southern African Development Community) at its Summit in August 1996, a position the country will hold until 31 August 1999,(67)  the chairing of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in April-May 1996, and the assumption of the UNCTAD presidency by South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, as well as the hosting of the NAM Summit in the second half of 1998 and the assumption of the chair of the organisation by South Africa .(68)  The country is also co-founder of some new international arrangements, such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.(69 ) South Africa is now participating in a vast number of international organisations on a regular basis.(70)

The extensive involvement of the country in multilateral affairs is reflected in the Annual Report of the Multilateral Branch of the DFA, which was published for the first time in June 1996 and again in June 1997.(71)  The activities of this Branch of the Department revolve around at least five or six main functional areas: international economic affairs (including relations with the European Union, alignment with the Lomé Convention, South-South co-operation, multilateral development issues, UNCTAD, and the promotion of trade, investment and tourism); environmental, scientific and technical affairs (which includes such issue areas as conservation, marine, maritime and Antarctic affairs, liaison with some of the specialised agencies such as FAO, UNESCO and WHO, and even narcotics and crime prevention, and satellite telecommunication); disarmament and non-proliferation (which was explained in some detail as a prominent aspect of current South African foreign policy); political and security affairs (which includes liaison with and participation at the United Nations (UN), the Commonwealth and, until the creation of a separate Chief Directorate for this purpose, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)); social affairs (which refer to human rights and humanitarian affairs and also include such issues as migration and humanitarian disaster relief assistance; and, until this was moved to Branch: Africa, regional development affairs (which focus mainly on SADC).

The report of the Multilateral Branch lists a variety of international commitments, involvements and responsibilities taken on by South Africa in the fields mentioned. All of this has not only meant greatly increased activity for South African officials, but also a vastly increased need for thorough knowledge about issues and procedures, the ability to communicate easily and effectively with the representatives of other participating countries and to report accurately and timeously on developments and results achieved. As the old South Africa was so thoroughly isolated from multilateral diplomacy in most areas, the country starts with a very serious lack of experience, skills and knowledge. This has been further depleted by the loss of some experienced people in the process of attempting to rectify the non-representativeness of the DFA as a whole. Though some affirmative appointments doubtless contributed to the pool of experience and skills, the ever-increasing needs in these areas are putting tremendous strain on the diplomatic ability of South Africa. Function-specific as well as diplomatic training are going a long way towards dealing with this, as well as frequent consultations with academics, experts and other members of civil society.(72)  It seems to have almost become DFA practice to involve such “outsiders” in various aspects of the performance of its functions, such as the development of policy, the working out of some of the details of its implementation, and consultations with overseas visitors. In some ways this may be quite innovative and it certainly is a deviation from the past.

Concluding Remarks

Whether South Africa will find a special niche in the post-Cold War world will depend on many factors, not all of which are under its immediate control. The prevailing circumstances in the world will impact, but nevertheless it is relieved that South Africa is the author of its own destiny. It is in the area of foreign policy and diplomacy that the quest for a niche will occur.

According to one point of view the central problem to be solved by South Africa in the course of this search for a leadership role at the middle power level – which in essence seems to be implied by the term “diplomatic niche”(73)  – is to unite the people of South Africa so that a common purpose can be pursued in foreign affairs.(74)  It would be hard to differ and say that unity of purpose is not important. However, as the same analyst points out,(75)  both “sides” – the “upstairs” and the “downstairs,” or the old establishment and the newcomers (liberation movements) – brought a dowry into the marriage in the form of their own special bilateral relationships. This could be a great strength in South African diplomacy and should be used both at the governmental and non-governmental level, e.g., in second track diplomacy. The latter is a form of diplomacy which is not unknown in the South African context.(76)  However, it is probably still under-utilised. As was pointed out before, consultation processes, making use of academics and experts outside of government in order to “add” knowledge and expertise to South African diplomacy, have become increasingly common. It is to be hoped that this practice will continue in order to help provide what is needed for effective participation in an increasingly complex world. Thorough training of professional diplomats is, however, not unimportant either, and such persons should be retained for the foreign service in order to establish an ever-growing pool of experience in the DFA. These are all aspects of the “micro level” of diplomacy and essential if the country is to succeed at the international level.

In addition, consideration will have to be given to the choice of different forms of diplomacy and their combination; the wrong choice can have serious consequences, as the Nigerian debacle would illustrate. The question of what balance should be maintained between bilateral and multilateral diplomacy has been raised;(77)  summitry needs to be used judiciously; an appropriate role for technology in diplomacy will have to be found; the extent to which the nine provinces or regions in South Africa can be allowed to conduct their own foreign relations will have to be considered;(78)  and, difficult choices will have to be made regarding emphasis on different regions. Prioritising in diplomacy seems unavoidable as the possibilities are almost endless, whereas the resources are really very limited. This is not a problem unique to South Africa.(79)

If prioritising in diplomacy is important, the same certainly holds true for foreign policy. This matter is much debated by academics(80)  and quite clearly South Africa will not be able to actively pursue each and every worthy cause. With more and more going on in the world out there, South Africa will not be able to be everywhere at the same time and will equal effectiveness. The choices that are made here will, of course, feed back to South African diplomacy and interact with it to produce an outcome which will help determine South Africa’s future role and position in the world.

If there is going to be an African Renaissance, it is fairly safe to assume that South Africa will not only be part of it, but probably one of the driving forces behind it. In an article entitled Renaissance of African Diplomacy? Vernon Seymour explores South Africa’s leadership role in Africa since 1994.(81)  He concludes that the new South African foreign policy establishment has “set in motion a refreshing policy direction that could charter a new course in African Diplomacy,” having also pronounced as follows:

The South African government is no world-weary regime which has seen it all before, but a young, enthusiastic administration eager to display its talents and ideals. The government preaches the virtues of interdependence, co-operation and human values. It has realised that today’s leaders need to be good diplomats who can balance domestic and international pressures, who can cut deals, make compromises, and resolve disputes, defining the interests of their states in congenial ways.

Everyone in South Africa should strive to prove this assessment right. The task in Africa – and elsewhere – is enormous; however, such a South Africa will go a long way to helping the African Renaissance happen.



1. Marie Muller, “The Diplomacy of Reintegration: South Africa Back into the Fold,” in Jan Melissen, ed., Diplomatic Innovation, London: Macmillan, 1998 (forthcoming).

2. See Jan Melissen’s explanation how and why diplomacy is by nature dynamic and constantly evolving (“Diplomatie in de internationale statensamenleving,” Internationale Spectator, Vol. 51, No. 10, October 1997, pp. 534-541).

3. Gerrit Olivier & Deon Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” Business & the Contemporary World, Vol. IX, No. 2, 1997, pp. 365-366.

4. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 366.

5. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 366.

6. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 366.

7. See for example: Greg Mills, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: The Year in Review,” in South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, Johannesburg: The South African Institute of International Affairs, 1997; Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism”; Hussein Solomon, ed., Fairy God-mother, Hegemon or Partner? In Search of a South African Foreign Policy, Halfway House: ISS Monograph Series, No. 13, May 1997.

8. DFA Multilateral Branch Annual Report 1996 (MB1/97, June 1997), published by the Multilateral Co-ordination Centre of the Multilateral Branch of the DFA, p. 6.

9. DFA Multilateral Branch Annual Report 1996, p. 6.

10. Document compiled by the Directorate Non-proliferation and Disarmament (DNPD), Department of Foreign Affairs, July 1997.

11. Details of the criteria and procedure involved, is summarised in the Guide to the terms of reference of Conventional Arms Control in South Africa, issued by the Directorate for Conventional Arms Control, Office of the Secretary for Defence, Pretoria, 01/05/1996. Also see Tyler Robinson & Jeffrey Boutwell, “South Africa’s Arms Industry: A New Era of Democratic Accountability?” Armed Forces & Society, Vol. 22, No. 4, Summer 1996, pp. 599-618.

12. See Sunday Times, 19 January 1997, p. 6; Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” pp. 373-374.

13. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 366.

14. See Marie Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” in Walter Carlsnaes & Marie Muller, eds., Change and South African External Relations, Midrand: International Thomson Publishing, 1997, pp. 51-72, for an exploration of these changes. Also see Marie Muller, “South Africa’s Changing External Relations,” in Murray Faure & Jan-Erik Lane, eds., South Africa: Designing New Political Institutions, London: Sage, 1996, pp. 121-150 for a broad overview of the evolution of South Africa’s external relations.

15. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 366.

16. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 367, cite actions of President Mandela and Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, including the creation of a Binational Commission between the US and South Africa under the chairmanship of the two Vice Presidents and the starting of negotiations with the European Union on a free trade agreement and accession to the Lomé Convention, as proof of this.

17. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 366.

18. See Roland Henwood, “South African foreign policy and international practise-1997-an analysis,” South African Yearbook of International Law, 1997, (Pretoria: VerLoren van Themaat Centre for Public Law Studies, University of South Africa) for a brief analysis of the issue relating to Libya.

19. See for example: SAIIA Research Group, eds., South Africa and the Two Chinas Dilemma, Johannesburg: South African Institute of International Affairs & Foundation of Global Dialogue, 1995; Greg Mills, “South Africa and the Two Chinas,” in South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1996, pp. 165-171; Jean-Jacques Cornish, “New South Africa and China,” in South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, pp. 250-256; Henwood, “South African foreign policy and international practise-1997-an analysis.”

20. See Henwood, “South African foreign policy and international practise-1997-an analysis.” Also see the discussion of overseas missions below.

21. See Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” for a brief survey of these adjustments and changes.

22. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” p. 55.

23. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” pp. 55-56.

24. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” p. 56.

25. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” p. 57.

26. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” pp. 57-58.

27. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” p. 58.

28. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” p. 60.

29. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” p. 62.

30. Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions,” pp. 59-60.

31. Approved Organisational Structure of the Department of Foreign Affairs, 29 September 1997.

32. Approved Organisational Structure of the Department of Foreign Affairs, 20 November 1997.

33. See the Approved Organisational Structure of the Department of Foreign Affairs as set out in various charts dated between September and December 1997 – hereafter referred to as “chart” or “charts.”

34. See the chart dated 22 September 1997. The January 1998 change was conveyed to the author by two Foreign Service Officers in personal and telephonic conversations respectively.

35. For a more detailed discussion of the process, see Muller, “The Diplomacy of Reintegration: South Africa Back into the Fold”; Muller, “The institutional dimension: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Missions.”

36. See for example: Die Burger, 7 January 1997, p. 7; Sunday Times, 12 January 1997, p. 2; Rapport, 4 May 1997, p. 8; Beeld, 16 July 1997, p. 10; Sowetan, 8 August 1997, p. 2; Rapport, 17 August 1997, p. 7; The Citizen, 16 September 1997, p. 19; Rapport, 21 September 1997, p. 6; The Sunday Independent, 28 September 1997, p. 2.

37. Beeld, 15 May 1997, p. 15; Saturday Star, 13 September 1997, p. 2; Sunday Tribune, 9 November 1997, p. 14.

38. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 367.

39. Charts dated November-December 1997, as well as Mission Address and Telephone List of the DFA, 27 January 1997. According to the (Official) South Africa Yearbook 1997, (published by the South African Communication Service, Pretoria), p. 213, there is also a multilateral mission in Gaborone, accredited to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). However, this is not reflected in the Charts of late 1997.

40. In the sequence listed by the DFA: Ivory Coast, Senegal, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Zaire, Algeria, Botswana, Nigeria, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Mozambique, Mauritius, Malawi, Lesotho, Morocco, Angola, Swaziland, Tunisia, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia (Walvis Bay) and Namibia (Windhoek).

41. In the sequence listed by the DFA: Greece, Germany (Bonn), Romania, Germany (Berlin), Brazil, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovak Republic, Argentina, US (Beverly Hills), Belgium, Venezuela, US (Chicago), Germany (Hamburg), Peru, Denmark, Cuba, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, UK, Germany (Frankfurt), Ukraine, Spain, France (Marseilles), Canada (Montreal), Norway, Mexico, Russian Federation, Canada (Ottawa), Italy (Milan), Germany (Munich), France (Paris), Uruguay, US (New York), Czech Republic, Italy (Rome), Sweden, US (Washington), Chile, Netherlands, Brazil, Canada (Toronto), Bulgaria, and Poland.

42. In the sequence listed by the DFA: United Arab Emirates, China (Beijing), Indonesia, Jordan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Kuwait, India (Bombay), Malaysia, Japan, India (New Delhi), Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, South Korea, and Iran.

43. According to a report in Business Day (13 January 1997, p. 1) South Africa has “accredited a nearby embassy to cover 44 countries.” It is not mentioned which embassy this is, but it is very likely a mission in an African country.

44. Business Day, 13 January 1997, p. 1.

45. Business Day, 13 January 1997, p. 1.

46. Business Day, 13 January 1997, p. 1.

47. Business Day, 13 January 1997, p. 1. According to this report South Africa has 75 embassies or high commissions in foreign countries, while there are 96 embassies or high commissions in South Africa, and South Africa has consulates in 18 countries, but 57 countries have consulates in South Africa.

48. For a listing of the Foreign Representatives in South Africa, see: South African Yearbook 1997, pp. 205 & 210-213; South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, pp. 465-468; Mission Address and Telephone List, 27 January 1997.

49. Business Day, 10 January 1997, p. 1; 13 January 1997, p. 7; Beeld, 13 January 1997, p. 4.

50. Greg Mills, “South Africa and Asia: New opportunities, lessons and dilemmas,” in Carlsnaes & Muller, Change and South African External Relations, p. 192; Mission Address and Telephone List, 27 January 1997, p. 23; South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, p. 465.

51. See, for example, Beeld, 24 October 1997, p. 17. Media Statement of the DFA, 22 December 1997.

52. See Denis Venter, “South Africa and Africa: Relations in a time of change,” in Carlsnaes & Muller, Change and South African External Relations, pp. 88-95, for a more detailed discussion of these affairs.

53. See The Citizen, 24 June 1997, p. 14, where reference is made to a number of telephone conversations between President Mandela and British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, and to a “warm relationship” which has apparently developed between them as a result.

54. Henwood, “South African foreign policy and international practise-1997-an analysis.”

55. See the charts dated 22 September and 8 October 1997.

56. See Department of Foreign Affairs List, July 1995

57. Muller, “The Diplomacy of Reintegration: South Africa Back into the Fold.”

58. Olivier & Geldenhuys, “South Africa’s Foreign Policy: From Idealism to Pragmatism,” p. 371.

59. South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, pp. 468-469.

60. Background Briefing on Mandela’s State Visits, issued by the Office of the President, 25 February 1997.

61. See Media Statements issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, July to December 1997.

62. South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, pp. 470-471.

63. South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, p. 471.

64. The Citizen, 25 July 1997, p. 15.

65. Media Statement by the DFA, 2 December 1997.

66. For a useful listing of the international agreements, bilateral and multilateral, entered into by South Africa, see the regular feature on Treaties in the South African Yearbook of International Law, as well as a similar feature in the Foreign Relations section of South Africa Yearbook.

67. South Africa Yearbook 1997, pp. 192-193.

68. South Africa Yearbook 1997, pp. 203-204. Mills, “South African Foreign Policy: The Year in Review,” 1996, p. 6; Greg Mills, “South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement,” in South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, p. 160.

69. See Media Statement of the DFA, 3 March 1997. For a critical assessment of this new initiative, see Fred Ahwireng-Obeng, “A Sceptical view of South Africa within the IOR-ARC,” The South African Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 1, Summer 1997, pp. 97-109.

70. See for example: the DFA Multilateral Branch Annual Report 1996; the South African Yearbook of International Affairs; the Foreign Relations section in the South Africa Yearbook; and the regular feature on South African participation in international organisations in the South African Yearbook of International Law.

71. DFA Multilateral Branch Annual Report 1995 (MB1/96) & DFA Multilateral Branch Annual Report 1996 (MB1/97). The 1997 Report, to be published in 1998 is unfortunately not available yet.

72. See DFA Multilateral Branch Annual Report 1996, p. 6.

73. See Andrew F. Cooper, ed., Niche Diplomacy: Middle Powers after the Cold War, London: Macmillan, Studies in Diplomacy, 1997. Also see Hussein Solomon’s application of the concept “middle power leadership” to South Africa: “South African Foreign Policy and Middle Power Leadership,” in Solomon, Fairy God-mother, Hegemon or Partner? In Search of a South African Foreign Policy, pp. 53-64.

74. Peter Vale, “South Africa: Understanding the Upstairs and the Downstairs,” in Cooper, Niche Diplomacy: Middle Powers after the Cold War, p. 211.

75. Vale, “South Africa: Understanding the Upstairs and the Downstairs,” p. 211.

76. Businessmen, in particular, have been very active in South African economic diplomacy.

77. See for example Greg Mills, “South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement,” in South African Yearbook of International Affairs 1997, p. 165.

78. This is an aspect which could not be explored at all in this paper. However, some attention was given to it elsewhere: Muller, “The Foreign Ministry of South Africa: from isolation to integration to coherency,” in Brian Hocking, ed., Foreign Ministries: Change and Adaptation, London: Macmillan, 1998 (forthcoming).

79. See for example Richard Langhorne, “Current Developments in Diplomacy: Who are the Diplomats Now?” Diplomacy & Statecraft, Vol. 8, No. 2, July 1997, pp. 1-15.

80. As an example see Greg Mills, “Leaning all over the place? The not-so-new South Africa’s Foreign Policy,” in Solomon, Fairy God-mother, Hegemon or Partner? In Search of a South African Foreign Policy, pp. 19-34.

81. Sapem (Southern African Political & Economic Monthly), Vol. 10, No. 7, April 1997, pp. 28-29.

icon for right PDF

You may also be interested in

Major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics

On July 30, Xi Jinping oversaw a meeting of the Politburo to discuss economic reform, ahead of the widely-anticipated discussions at Beidaihe leading up to the release of a new economic reform package at the Third Plenum in October (Xinhua, July 30). The official press provides no further detail about the meeting, but Premier Li Keqiang has described the center’s economic priorities at great length in recent months. Meanwhile, Xi has been busy consolidating power, gaining hold of what appears to be an unusually strong grasp of the party’s central apparatus. It remains unclear, howev...


Developing Countries: Victims or Participants? Their Changing Role in International Negotiations

The roles of developing countries in international negotiations are evolving from being seen as victims to active participants. They are now asserting themselves and playing more significant roles in shaping global policies and agreements.


Achieving Zero Hunger: The Critical Role of Investments in Social Protection and Agriculture

The message emphasizes the crucial role of investments in social protection and agriculture in achieving zero hunger.


The Milennium Development Goals Report 2015

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 reflects on the progress made towards achieving the eight goals set by world leaders in 2000. It highlights significant accomplishments in areas such as poverty reduction, child mortality, and access to clean water. However, challenges remain, including disparities among regions and persistent inequalities. The report emphasizes the need for continued efforts to address these issues and accelerate progress towards sustainable development.


Changing with the World: UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-17

With the changing world as the backdrop, and building on our core strengths, our vision is focused on making the next big breakthrough in development: to help countries achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion. This is a vision within reach, with the eradication of extreme poverty and major reductions in overall poverty feasible within a generation. It should be possible as well to make significant inroads against income and non- income measures of inequality and exclusion within this time frame.


Outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development: Addis Ababa Action Agenda

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda outlines commitments made at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development to address global financial challenges and promote sustainable development.


Why modernise official development assistance?

Most ODA continues to be provided in the form of grants. Nonetheless, concessional loans – in other words, loans provided on favourable terms to developing countries – are also important, and will continue to play a key role in mobilising resources to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The concept of ODA was developed by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 1969, yet until recently the definition of what made a loan “concessional in character” – which in turn determines the extent to which a loan can be reported as ODA – was open to interpretation. ...


Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The participatory approach that led to the elaboration of the Common African Position (CAP) on the post-2015 Development Agenda involving stakeholders at the national, regional and continental levels among the public and private sectors, parliamentarians, civil society organizations (CSOs), including women and youth associations, and academia. This approach has helped address the consultation gap in the initial preparation and formulation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


Message on Switzerland’s International Cooperation in 2013-2016

The message discusses Switzerland's international cooperation activities from 2013 to 2016.


The Foreign Policies of the Global South: Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks

The text provides an analysis of foreign policies in the Global South and suggests reconsidering existing conceptual frameworks.


Current developments in South African diplomacy

As the new South Africa adapts to an ever-changing regional, continental and global environment, this paper reviews current developments against the background of the historic situation and of the evolution of diplomacy world-wide.

The Environmental Movement in the Global South

The message explores the environmental movement in the Global South, focusing on the challenges faced and the strategies employed to address environmental issues in developing countries.


China’s soft power in Africa: From the ‘Beijing Consensus’ to health diplomacy

China has deepened its engagement with Africa since 1949, shifting from ideological to pragmatic approaches. This evolution includes aiding socialist nations with infrastructure projects, sending experts, and fostering economic and political ties. Present-day interactions involve Chinese officials, bankers, and businesspeople promoting sustainable economic growth. China's focus on raw materials has not overshadowed its support for aid programs like medical assistance. The relationship is set to progress through a mix of traditional aid, technical support, and increased trade and investment.


Development diplomacy and poverty reduction strategy

Lichia Yiu and Raymond Sanner describe in detail the application of development diplomacy in the context of international co-operation for poverty reduction in Highly Indebted Poor Countries. In particular, the authors describe the goal of the International Labour Organisation – a non-state actor – in advocating the inclusion of employment and Decent Work Agenda policies in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, an instrument developed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Foreign Ministries in Developing Countries and Emerging Markets

The message discusses the importance of foreign ministries in developing countries and emerging markets. It highlights the key role these ministries play in promoting economic development, attracting foreign investment, and fostering international relations. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of effective diplomacy and strategic communication for these nations to navigate global challenges and opportunities successfully.


Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a comprehensive plan that outlines 17 goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all. It addresses challenges such as climate change, inequality, and peace and justice. The agenda emphasizes the importance of partnerships, data, and financing in achieving these goals. Implementing the agenda requires a collective effort from governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals to create a more sustainable and equitable world by the year 2030.


Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing

Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing.


The African Diaspora Program: Mobilizing the African Diaspora for Development

The African Diaspora Program aims to engage and unite African diaspora communities worldwide to contribute to development efforts in Africa.


Development Aid and Nigeria’s Poverty Challenge: Millenium Development Goals 4 and 5 in Focus

The quest to eradicate poverty has been identified as the most critical challenge facing development in the world today. Women and children are disproportionately affected by poverty.


Triangular Co-operation and Aid Effectiveness: Can triangular co-operation make aid more effective?

The message discusses the potential for triangular cooperation to enhance the effectiveness of aid.


Re-imagining the future

‘There is so much work still to be done. There are so many unraveling threads. There is so much still to create. There is much need to better use the Internet for development.’ - Sheba Mohammid from Trinidad and Tobago


DAC High Level Meeting: Final Communiqué

On 15-16 December 2014 the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) came to an important and historic consensus on how to modernise its statistical framework for measuring development finance to developing countries. It paved the way for the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Securing the Future of Multilateral Development Finance: Time for Europe to take the Initiative

The message emphasizes the importance of Europe taking the lead in securing the future of multilateral development finance.


The World Bank’s Contribution to Poverty Reduction in Peru

Peru’s economy has improved significantly, however poverty is an imperative issue that is not progressing as expected.


Declaration of the Global African Diaspora Summit

The text describes the Global African Diaspora Summit as a significant platform for discussing issues affecting people of African descent worldwide, fostering unity, and promoting economic development and social inclusion within the diaspora.


Economic Diplomacy: The Level of Development and Trade

The message discusses the correlation between a country's level of development and its participation in international trade through economic diplomacy.


The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet

The message emphasizes the goal of achieving dignity by 2030 through ending poverty, transforming lives, and preserving the environment.


Making Education a Priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The post-2015 development agenda should prioritize education to address global challenges effectively and promote sustainable development. Educational goals must encompass quality, inclusivity, equity, and lifelong learning opportunities for all individuals, regardless of background. Investing in education not only benefits individuals by improving their opportunities and well-being but also contributes to societal advancement by fostering economic growth, reducing poverty, and promoting social cohesion. Education is a fundamental human right and a key driver of progress, making it essential f...

Understanding the Digital Divide

The digital divide refers to inequalities in access to and usage of technology. Factors such as income, education, geography, and age can contribute to this gap. Bridging this divide is crucial for ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals in today's technologically-driven world.


Pricing the right to education: The cost of reaching new targets by 2030

This paper shows there is an annual nancing gap of US$39 billion over 2015-2030 for reaching universal pre-primary, primary and secondary education of good quality in low and lower middle income countries.


Enyclopedia of International Development

The Encyclopedia of International Development is a comprehensive resource that covers a wide range of topics related to development, including theories, practices, actors, and key issues. It offers insights from various disciplines and perspectives, making it an invaluable tool for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of international development.


The Clash of Globalizations: Essays on the Political Economy of Trade and Development Policy

The Clash of Globalizations: Essays on the Political Economy of Trade and Development Policy explores the tensions between different approaches to globalization, examining how they impact trade and development policy.


Development Co-operation Report 2014: Mobilising Resources for Sustainable Development

The Development Co-operation Report 2014 emphasizes the importance of mobilizing resources for sustainable development. It highlights the need for effective partnerships, innovative financing mechanisms, and increased transparency to achieve development goals. The report also stresses the importance of policy coherence, human rights-based approaches, and the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in development efforts.


The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations

The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations offers a comprehensive examination of the organization, detailing its history, structure, functions, and impact on global affairs. Covering topics such as peace and security, human rights, development, and international law, this handbook provides valuable insights into the UN's role in addressing global challenges and promoting cooperation among member states. Scholars, policymakers, and students will find this resource to be a valuable reference for understanding the complexities of the United Nations and its significance in the international landsca...


Information and communications technologies for development

The message discusses the role of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in development.


Economic Geography and International Inequality

The text provided appears to be empty. Can you please provide the content you would like me to summarize?

The Vulnerability of the Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean

The Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to external economic and environmental shocks due to their small size and limited resources, which threaten their sustainability and development.


Knowledge management and international development – the role of diplomacy

In this chapter, Walter Fust talks about the role of knowledge management, and knowledge for development, in diplomacy. He describes various methods to assess what knowledge should be stocked, and explains the need for managers who are assigned the task of deciding what should be stocked. These decisions need to be guided by principles, or guidelines - referred to as value management.


Knowledge management and change in international organisations: Learning from the private sector

In this paper, John Harper and Jennifer Cassingena Harper talk about knowledge as a vital resource, and the necessity of building competencies and establishing new skills. Analysing the theories by Ernst B. Haas in When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in International Organisation, the authors trace the development of knowledge-oriented activities in the private sector, and its implications for organisations in the public and international domain.


Multilateral Aid 2015: Better Partnerships for a Post-2015 World

The message emphasizes the importance of improving partnerships in multilateral aid for a post-2015 world.


Diplomacy and Developing Nations: Post-Cold War foreign policy-making structures and processes

The message discusses how post-Cold War foreign policy-making structures and processes impact diplomacy with developing nations.

Global Health, Aid Effectiveness and the Changing Role of the WHO

The text discusses the changing role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the context of global health and aid effectiveness.


Education Counts: Towards the UN Development Goals

The message discusses the importance of education in achieving the UN Development Goals. It highlights the critical role education plays in economic growth, reducing poverty, improving health outcomes, and promoting gender equality. By investing in education, countries can address various societal challenges and work towards sustainable development.

Caribbean Development Report, Volume I

The Caribbean Development Report, Volume I, analyzes key challenges faced by the Caribbean region, focusing on the implications of climate change, the impact of natural disasters, and economic vulnerability. It also emphasizes the importance of building resilience, promoting sustainable development, and fostering innovation and technology to address these challenges effectively. The report highlights the need for coordinated efforts from governments, private sector, and civil society to create a more resilient and prosperous future for the Caribbean region.

The Education Millennium Development Goal Beyond 2015: Prospect for Quality and Learners

The message is about discussing the Education Millennium Development Goal post-2015 with a focus on quality and learners.


The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action

The Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda highlight key principles and actions for improving aid effectiveness in developing countries, emphasizing ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, and mutual accountability among donors and recipients. They aim to enhance the impact of aid by promoting transparency, participation, and partnership in the development process.


Developing a Road Map for Engaging Diasporas in Development

Governments of countries of migrant origin and migrant destination recognize the value that diaspora populations may bring to development efforts in their countries of origin. The Global Forum on Migration and Development has, since its first meeting in 2007, looked for ways to highlight the kinds of policies and programs that can magnify the resources, both human and financial, that emigrants and their descendants contribute to development. This handbook continues that effort on the basis of earlier investigations by the collaborating institutions, the academic and policy literature, ...


The Role of Diplomacy in the Challenges to Maritime Security Cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea: Case Study of Nigeria

There is presently a pervading feeling that the West and Central African states are long overdue to take control of their maritime environment. However, these expectations show no indication of materialising in the short term.


Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century

This collection of papers offers a new rationale and framework for international development cooperation. Its main argument is that in actual practice development cooperation has already moved beyond aid. In the name of aid (i.e., assistance to poor countries), we are today dealing with issues such as the ozone hole, global climate change, HIV, drug trafficking, and financial volatility. All of these issues are not really poverty related. Rather, they concern global housekeeping: ensuring an adequate provision of global public goods. Many important lessons could be drawn by first recognizing t...


Post-2015 and the Global Governance of Education and Training

The message discusses the importance of post-2015 global governance in education and training. It emphasizes the need for a comprehensive and inclusive framework that addresses the challenges and opportunities in education worldwide. The focus is on creating policies that promote equity, quality, and relevance in education to meet the demands of the 21st century.


Australian aid: Promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability

The message is about Australian aid focusing on promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, and enhancing stability.


Cloud computing: Opportunities and issues for developing countries

This paper looks at how cloud computing will surpass the Internet in adoption and usage as this technology’s users are on the other side of the digital divide. It looks at the diffusion of mobile phones and devices in developing countries and its continuous dramatic rise and at some popular mobile applications that are helping development efforts, such as m-Banking, m-Education, m-Health, m-Agriculture, and others that already exist and are popular within developing countries.


The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

The book "The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa" explores China's involvement in Africa, discussing its economic impact, investments, and infrastructure projects across the continent. The author challenges common misconceptions and offers a nuanced perspective on China's role in Africa, highlighting both the benefits and challenges of this relationship.


Small states in the global politics of development

Much of the discussion surrounding small states has treated them as a discrete category, with common vulnerabilities and opportunities. However, a productive approach is to look at the global politics of development, and then see where small states fit in. The author looks in turn at the global politics of finance, trade and the environment. He concludes that small states have been largely unsuccessful in asserting their own interests in global politics, and that (to the extent that it is possible to generalize about states which differ greatly) vulnerabilities rather than opportunities are th...


A Future for Small States: Overcoming Vulnerability

The message provides strategies for small states to overcome vulnerability and thrive in the future.


EU Strategy for Africa

The EU Strategy for Africa aims to strengthen partnerships with African countries through political dialogue and cooperation on various issues, including peace and security, migration, trade, and investment. It prioritizes sustainable development, job creation, green growth, and digitalization to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the EU and Africa. By working together, the EU and African countries can address common challenges, promote prosperity, and achieve shared goals for the benefit of both regions.


Reshaping the Future: Education and Postconflict Reconstruction

The message is missing content to summarize.


Promoting e-Commerce in developing countries

This study examines the advantages and possibilities for the use of digital signatures to carry out electronic transactions. It focuses on developing and transition countries that have not fully implemented the use of digital signatures in their economic, commercial and productive processes. An important aim of this research is to create awareness on the likely effects for enforcing the use of digital signatures to carry out e-commerce transactions on the economies of developing and transition countries. The study also proposes key issues to be considered for policy-makers in countries in orde...


Special Ministerial Event on Food Security and Sustainble Development in Small Island Developing States

A summary of the Special Ministerial Event on Food Security and Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States.


Conditionality in development aid policy

The message discusses the importance of conditionality in development aid policy.


Development diplomacy by non-state actors

Raymond Saner addresses the growing influence non state actors are having on policy dialogue and policy negotiations in international development. Saner highlights how non state actors have become increasingly involved in the development policy field usually occupied by ambassadors and envoys representing Ministries of Foreign Affairs.


Is a special treatment of small island developing States possible?

The text appears to be missing. Could you please provide the content within the triple quotes so that I can assist you with summarizing it?


The network neutrality debate and development

This study focuses ont he Net Neutrality controversy. It aims to answer a number of questions including - If Net Neutrality deserves protection, the question is how? Should a political or legal solution be enacted at national or international levels? Can we trust an informal free-market solution that may develop on its own, or should legal and political means be used to enunciate this principle? Will market forces ensure the best outcome, whatever this may be?


Development Effectiveness: What Have We Learnt?

The message discusses lessons learned regarding development effectiveness.


The United Nations and Development: From Aid to Cooperation

The text could not be located.


New’ Actors and Global Development Cooperation

The global financial crisis has reinforced trends of shifting wealth and power in the world economy. One expression of this changing global context is the rising role of so-called ›new‹ actors as development assistance providers. The ›new actors‹ term is a convenient (though not entirely accurate) label to describe a heterogeneous group of state and nonstate actors that OECD-DAC donors increasingly recognise as interesting partners for engagement. For many partner countries these new actors have provided a welcome source of additional development finance. In the context of this wo...


Outcome Mapping: Building, learning and reflection into development programs

The text is likely about Outcome Mapping, a methodology for development programs that focuses on building, learning, and reflection.


Exploring the need for speed in deploying information and communications technology for international development and bridging the digital divide

This paper comes on the eve of the millennium development goals deadline of 2015 which acknowledges ICT as the enabler for speeding towards the finish line. The quest is to explore whether we are all speeding towards a clearly defined goal, given our varied capacities and affinities.


A World to Gain: A New Agenda for Aid, Trade and Investment

A World to Gain: A New Agenda for Aid, Trade and Investment" outlines a comprehensive approach to global development through aid, trade, and investment. It suggests strategies to address economic disparities and foster sustainable growth worldwide. The book advocates for collaboration between countries and institutions to tackle challenges and unlock opportunities for progress on a global scale.


EU Support to peace mediation: developments and challenges

The message discusses the EU's role in supporting peace mediation efforts, highlighting both progress made and challenges faced in this area.


Uncertain Times

Not long ago, Latin America was a success story of economic growth. While advanced economies suffered a severe recession during the 2008–09 financial crisis in the United States and western Europe, followed by a weak recovery, emerging market economies were seen as the promise for renewed world economic growth. Latin America was viewed as part of that promise.


Knowledge and Diplomacy

Knowledge and Diplomacy presents papers on knowledge and knowledge management from the January 1999 Conference on Knowledge and Diplomacy in Malta. The papers in this book, examining the topic from a variety of backgrounds, academic interests and orientations, reflect the multidisciplinary character of knowledge management. This publication is only available online.


Modern Diplomacy – Opening address

Opening address of the Honourable Dr. George F. Vella, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Environment of Malta.


Development Co-operation Report 2015: Making Partnerships Effective Coalitions for Action

The message discusses the importance of effective partnerships and coalitions for action in development cooperation as outlined in the Development Co-operation Report 2015.


The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Is Changing Our Lives

The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Is Changing Our Lives" discusses how advancements in communication technology are diminishing the significance of physical distance in our lives. It explores how these changes are transforming the way we connect with others, conduct business, and experience the world around us. This book delves into the impact of these developments on various aspects of society and highlights the increasing interconnectedness of the global community as a result of these innovations.


Digital Opportunities for All: Meeting the Challenge

The message is about embracing digital opportunities to overcome challenges and ensure access for all.


Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa

The book "Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa" argues that traditional aid to Africa is ineffective and harmful. It claims that aid perpetuates poverty by fostering corruption and dependency instead of promoting sustainable economic growth. The author advocates for alternative solutions such as investment and trade to create long-term prosperity in Africa, emphasizing the need for African countries to take control of their own development.


Oslo Summit: Financing Education in Developing Countries

The Oslo Summit focuses on financing education in developing countries to ensure access and quality education for all children.


Leaving No One Behind in the Data Revolution (Briefing Paper #5)

The message provided is empty.


The European Union and the Latin American and the Caribbean Dialogue: Building a Strong Partnership

The message discusses the importance of building a strong partnership between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean through dialogue.


Ahead of the Curve? UN Ideas and Global Challenges

Ideas and concepts are arguably the most important legacy of the United Nations. Ahead of the Curve? analyzes the evolution of key ideas and concepts about international economic and social development born or nurtured, refined or applied under UN auspices since 1945. The authors evaluate the policy ideas coming from UN organizations and scholars in relation to such critical issues as decolonization, sustainable development, structural adjustment, basic needs, human rights, women, world employment, the transition of the Eastern bloc, the role of nongovernmental organizations, and global govern...


Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development

The message discusses the complex challenge of reducing disaster risk in development projects.

Towards a Single Development Vision and the role of the Single Economy

The message discusses the importance of aligning development goals and the significance of the Single Economy in creating a unified development vision.