South Africa’s overarching and key foreign policy objectives prioritise the African context as a pivot in its international engagements. Located within the context of cooperation and partnership, South Africa’s role and participation in global governance institutions represents a foreign policy priority.
As South Africa seeks to strengthen its position globally and in particular with a view towards addressing pressing domestic development priorities, it is important for these to underpin the country’s national interest. South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in a recent opinion piece (February, 2016) noted:“[c]entral to SA’s national interest is to address the triple challenge of eradicating poverty, unemployment and inequality”. However as posited by Minister Mashabane, the region and wider continent are fundamentally important with regards to South Africa’s progress and prosperity. She asserted:
“[t]he African continent remains central in our foreign policy. We have been consistent in our support of regional and continental processes to respond to and resolve crises, strengthen regional integration, significantly increase intra-African trade and champion sustainable development and opportunities in Africa”.
This means relations with the Global South in addition to the Global North must continue as a strategic orientation in South Africa’s international affairs, especially as Deputy Minister of International Relations, Luwellyn Landers, highlighted that the European Union (EU) “is still our primary trade and investment partner in the world”. This is significant in terms of securing sustainable (and inclusive) economic growth in addressing domestic, regional and continental development aspirations. Therefore as Pretoria moves into its next twenty years of democracy consideration must be given to significant trends that will shape South Africa’s foreign policy trajectories in the next two decades.
In light of the aforementioned aspects, SALO’s dialogue on “Forecasting SA Foreign Policy in the Next Twenty Years” sought to address the following issues:
– What values will underpin South African foreign policy over the next 20 years?
– Will the current foreign policy objectives remain relevant over the next 20 years?
– Is economic development South Africa’s overarching national interest priority?
– The influence of the domestic context on South African foreign policy.
– South Africa’s role regionally and continentally.
– The role of South Africa in terms of global institutions and governance.
– South Africa’s efforts to uphold values and defend interests.
– Unpacking engagement between the Global North and the Global South.
– The impact of domestic difficulties on the country’s brand and image globally.