South Africa: Human Rights in Foreign Policy - the Rhetoric Versus the Reality

Voting day in the 2014 general election, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

South Africa's four biggest political parties all claim to advocate human rights in their foreign policies. But do they practise what they preach?

Foreign policy rarely figures prominently in any political election campaign anywhere. And that has also been true of the campaigning over the past few months for Wednesday's parliamentary and provincial elections in South Africa. Some parties have not even bothered to mention foreign policy in their election manifestos.

Nonetheless, foreign policy is important because foreign relations are important, especially in a globalised world.

South Africa's foreign policy clearly impacts on the lives of all South Africans, not least because it shapes the perceptions of foreign investors and others about this country, for better or worse. We are judged, to a degree, by our friends.

The four biggest political parties contesting for power on 8 May 2019 -- the governing ANC, the chief opposition DA, the EFF and the IFP -- have markedly different foreign policies in many areas, often reflecting differences in their domestic positions. However, they also agree on quite a few issues.

The ANC aligns itself, broadly, with the "global South" -- the developing world -- and especially Africa, and with "progressive" forces beyond.


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