South African foreign policy as played out on the global stage, specifically in decisions made by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), lacks the institutional capacity to enforce directives, said political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi at a round table discussion on South Africa’s second UNSC tenure, organised by the Institute for Global Dialogue, on Friday.
South Africa has failed in its public diplomacy in that the general public is left wondering about certain policy issues advocated by the country in the UNSC. Matshiqi cited the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (Dirco’s) communication infrastructure and processes as being particularly problematic.
The country’s stance on the passing of Resolution 1973 in enforcing a “no-fly zone” over Libya was particularly perplexing as South Africa voted in favour of this and, thereafter, condemned the use of force against Gaddafi forces by Nato troops.
The Human Sciences Research Council’s Sanusha Naidu pointed out that, owing to emerging power dynamics and regional allegiances, member States were often torn between votes on resolutions.
These dynamics included the prominence of emerging economies, such as the Brics bloc, countries driving regional agendas, such as those of SADC and Ecowas, as well as the African agenda as a whole. Besides this, the movement to reform the UNSC structure to allow greater global representation was also affecting the way States voted on important global issues.
In response, Dirco’s Fadl Nacerodian agreed that South Africa’s position may seem inconsistent, but he argued that the country did not consider itself revisionist of the UNSC and did not vote along bloc lines, as it had its own independent foreign policy according to which it voted.
He did, however, argue that South Africa supported an expansion of the UNSC along regional lines, but that this should not happen in a way that may hinder the Council’s decision-making capacity and ability to enforce resolutions on the ground.