Foreign relations of South Africa: Wikis


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South Africa

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Foreign Relations of
South Africa

Flag of South Africa

Dominion May 31, 1910
Sovereignty December 11, 1931
Joined UN September 7, 1945

The foreign relations of South Africa have spanned from the country's time as Dominion and later Realm of the British Empire to its isolationist policies under Apartheid to its position as a responsible international actor taking a key role in Africa.

South Africa is active in the United Nations, the African Union and the Commonwealth of Nations. Considered a possible permanent addition to the United Nations Security Council, South Africa was elected by the UN General Assembly to serve on the Security Council in 2007 for the first time ever.




South Africa, as a key member of the British Empire and Commonwealth, fought alongside the United Kingdom and the Allies in both World War I and World War II, and it participated in the postwar United Nations force in the Korean War. South Africa was a founding member of the League of Nations and in 1927 established a Department of External Affairs with diplomatic missions in the main Western European countries and in the United States.


South Africa introduced apartheid in 1948, as a systematic extension of pre-existing racial discrimination in the country. As a result, the country became increasing isolated internationally until apartheid was ended and racial equality introduced in 1990–3.[citation needed]


Having emerged from the international isolation of the apartheid era, South Africa has become a leading international actor. Its principal foreign policy objective is to develop good relations with all countries, especially its neighbors in the Southern African Development Community and the other members of the African Union. South Africa has played a key role in seeking an end to various conflicts and political crises on the African continent, including in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Comoros, and Zimbabwe. In August 1998, South Africa assumed the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, which it relinquished in July 2002.

Swaziland has asked South Africa to open negotiations on reincorporating some nearby South African territories that are populated by ethnic Swazis or that were long ago part of the Swazi kingdom.

The South African government has been criticised by Human Rights Watch for deporting hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean refugees and treating victims of political violence as economic migrants. By sending refugees back to persecution, Human Rights Watch has asserted that South Africa is violating the refugee convention and international law.[1]

United Nations Security Council

South Africa was a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from October 2006 until 2008. South African votes in the UNSC have not been without controversy. In particular, a 'no' vote on a resolution criticising the Burmese government attracted widespread criticism.[2]

South Africa also attempted to vote against economic sanctions for Iran however, this was changed after South African realised that the 'no' vote would be defeated.



Angola-South Africa relations are quite strong as the ruling parties in both nations, the African National Congress in South Africa and the MPLA in Angola, fought together during the Angolan Civil War and South African Border War. They fought against UNITA rebels, based in Angola, and the apartheid-era government in South Africa who supported them. Nelson Mandela mediated between the MPLA and UNITA factions during the last years of Angola's civil war.



See Foreign relations of Egypt



Since South Africa and Malawi had their first democratic elections in 1994, Malawi and South Africa have enhanced relations. In 2008, the two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to enhance the relationship between the two countries through enhanced security cooperation.[3]



Upon independence in 1990, Namibia's economy was still tied to South Africa's.[4] To this day, the economy of Namibia is still closely contacted to South Africa through both institutional relationships (Southern African Customs Union, for example) and privately owned mining concessions.[5] The South African rand is still legal currency within Namibia, while the Namibian dollar is not so in South Africa and the currencies are traded on par locally.



South Africa has a mission in Harare. Zimbabwe has an embassy in Pretoria and a consulate general in Johannesburg. The Government of Zimbabwe took a particular interest in the search for independence for Namibia (South-West Africa) from South Africa. In addition, as chairman of the front-line states in southern Africa, Zimbabwe spoke out vigorously against the policies of apartheid in South Africa and frequently called for the imposition of economic sanctions against the government. However, whilst supporting democractic change in South Africa, Mugabe did not support the idea of Zimbabwe being used as a base for anti-South African guerillas.[6]

In recent years, following the political crisis in the country, the ex-president Thabo Mbeki mediated with the MDC and Zanu PF to form a unity government, and often remained silent on the issues in Zimbabwe, which drew criticism.[7] Following a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the ruling ANC in South Africa became impatient and has urged the parties to form a unity government.[8]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Bulgaria See Bulgaria – South Africa relations

Interest Offices between South Africa and Bulgaria were opened initially in November 1990 and full diplomatic relations was established on February 2, 1992. Bulgaria has an embassy in Pretoria and South Africa is represented in Bulgaria through its embassy in Athens (Greece).

 Croatia See Foreign relations of Croatia
 Denmark See Foreign relations of Denmark
 Finland 1949-05-15 See Finland – South Africa relations
  • A South African legation was established in 1967 and relations were then upgraded to ambassadorial level in March 1991. Finland has an embassy in Pretoria, a general consulate in Johannesburg and a consulate in Cape Town. South Africa has an embassy in Helsinki. During World War II South Africa declared war on Finland.
 Greece See Foreign relations of Greece
 Ireland See Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland
 Italy See Foreign relations of Italy
 Romania See Foreign relations of Romania
 Russia 1992-02-28 See Russia–South Africa relations
 Serbia See Foreign relations of Serbia
 Switzerland See South Africa – Switzerland relations
 Turkey 1991 See South African – Turkish relations
 Ukraine See South Africa – Ukraine relations




Brazil has provided military assistance to South Africa in the form of warfare training and logistics. Bilateral relations between the countries have recently increased, as a result of Brazil's new South-South foreign policy aimed to strengthen integration between the major powers of the developing world.


Canada established its diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1939, along with other nations, due to the outbreak of World War 2. Canada actively encouraged the end of Apartheid in South Africa and the countries have had normal relations since then. The Constitution of South Africa was, in part, inspired by the Constitution of Canada, particularly the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Former South African President Nelson Mandela made an official state visit to Canada in September 1998. Mandela was made an honorary Canadian citizen, during his second visit to Canada. A 2003 visit by President Thabo Mbeki in November 2003, the Joint Declaration of Intent was signed to strengthen relations between the two countries. Canada has assisted South Africa in the areas of development (over $200 million) and the fight against AIDS in South Africa and to strengthen services provided by the Government of South Africa. Trade between the two countries totalled $1.8 billion in 2008.[15]


There were no official relations between Mexico and South Africa before 1994. After the birth of democracy in South Africa, the countries established relations. Mexico has an embassy in Pretoria, South Africa has an embassy in Mexico City.

United States

The United States has maintained an official presence in South Africa since 1799, when an American consulate was opened in Cape Town. The U.S. Embassy is located in Pretoria, and Consulates General are in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Americans and South Africans also have many non-governmental ties: black and white American missionaries, for example, have a long history of activity in South Africa. South Africans (particularly the ANC leadership) also acknowledge support from and ties to the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S.

Rest of world


  • Date started: 1947
  • Australia has a High Commission in Pretoria.
  • South Africa has a High Commission in Canberra.


There is a major resident Indian community in South Africa that made a significant contribution to the struggle for civil rights; Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi pioneered the non-violent civil disobedience in the struggle of Indian people for civil rights in the 1890s and 1900s.[16] Indians also contributed to the African National Congress's struggle against the Apartheid regime. The Indian government was an outspoken critic of the apartheid-era South African government, refusing to maintain diplomatic relations.[17] India's support evoked goodwill in South Africa and other African countries.[17]


South Africa and Iran share historical bilateral relations and the latter supported the South African liberation movements. It severed official relations with South Africa in 1979 and imposed a trade boycott in protest against the country's Apartheid policies. However, in January 1994, Iran lifted all trade and economic sanctions against South Africa and diplomatic relations were reestablished on 10 May 1994.[18]


Former ANC leader Nelson Mandela first visited Israel in 1999. Mandela said: "To the many people who have questioned why I came, I say: Israel worked very closely with the apartheid regime. I say: I've made peace with many men who slaughtered our people like animals. Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities".[19] Then Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited South Africa in 2004,[20] meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki, the first visit by an Israeli leader since the end of apartheid.

See also


  1. ^ "South Africa: Grant Temporary Status to All Zimbabweans". Human Rights Watch. 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  2. ^ Bogert, Carroll (September 7, 2008). "SA's human rights reputation tarnished". Sunday Independent. 
  3. ^ Country, Malawi to Enhance Defence Co-Operation by Bathandwa Mbola, BuaNews, 25 February 2008
  4. ^ In Namibia, South African Is Center of Attention, New York Times, 23 March 1990
  5. ^ Namibia - Economy
  6. ^ US Department of State - Background Note: Zimbabwe, accessed November 29, 2008.
  7. ^ "Mbeki urges patience in Zimbabwe", The National Post, April 8, 2008.
  8. ^ "Zuma says summit must "force" Zimbabwe deal", Reuters, November 7, 2008.
  9. ^ Russian embassy in Pretoria
  10. ^ South African embassy in Moscow
  11. ^ South African embassy in Ankara
  12. ^ Ukrainian embassy in Pretoria
  13. ^ Argentine embassy in Pretoria
  14. ^ South African embassy in Buenos Aires
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "South Africa embraces "cousin" India". BBC News. 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  17. ^ a b "India pushes people power in Africa". Asia Times. 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Belling, Susan (1999-10-02). "Mandela bears message of peace in first visit to Israel". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. 
  20. ^ "South African President Mbeki meets with Deputy PM Olmert". Haaretz. 2004-10-22. 

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