On 13 July, the FW de Klerk Foundation, supported by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), hosted a discussion on:

The Rule of Law, The Constitution and South Africa’s International Diplomacy: What Role Should Constitutional Values; Pragmatism; Ideology and Old Loyalties Play in Determining Foreign Policy?

The conference was held to consider the principles that should guide South Africa’s foreign policy

The question was raised of whether our foreign policy should be based on the values in the constitution; on old loyalties and friendships; or on a pragmatic assessment of South Africa’s perceived national interests. If it should be determined by a combination of these factors, what weighting should be given to each?

All elements should be considered while remaining cognisant of the Ukraine war and the policy of neutrality that our government has adopted.

The war is of particular importance to South Africa’s foreign policy due to its core significance for the conduct of international relations in the present era. It is the most critical development in the international arena since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. This is a dramatic departure from the world order that we hoped had emerged after World War II – one that rested on international law and the proposition that no nation should invade another nation, particularly with a view to seizing territory.

At the discussion, several esteemed individuals were asked to speak on various topics regarding South Africa’s foreign policy against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.

Liubov Abravitova, the Ukrainian Ambassador to South Africa, spoke about the significance of the war in relation to South Africa, and the injustice of pitting nuclear against non-nuclear power.  

Advocate Mark Oppenheimer spoke about the need for South Africa’s foreign policy to reflect the values in our constitution.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, the CEO of the South African Institute of International Affairs, presented on the pragmatic factors that should guide our foreign policy.

Professor Irina Filatova, who specialises in African and Russian history, spoke about how social media has become a powerful tool in propaganda, and how this problem could be addressed and countered.

The panel discussion was chaired by Professor Lucky Mathebula, Public Policy Analyst of The Thinc Foundation, and each factor at play was thoroughly presented and critically evaluated.  

Learn more by viewing the full presentation at bit.ly/3ON2o9S.