Reform in Defence of Sovereignty: South Africa in the UN Security Council, 2007-2008

Paul-Henri Bischoff


After 1994, South Africa became the sine qua non of an interna¬tionalist state, willing to promote cooperation amongst a plurality of actors, believing common interests to be more important than their differences. This raised the hopes of constitutionalists, and those who believed in the expansion of a liberal democratic peace. South Africa has acted out two seemingly contradictory roles: those of a reformer and those of a conserver. By 2007-2008 she had shifted towards the latter, conservative-reformist position. Thus, South Africa’s voting record at the General Assembly expressed her overriding concern to regionalise African issues and minimise the US and the West shaping political events. This brought her foreign policy into sharper relief. But while in some sense successful, it came at a price: a controversy about her surrendering her internationalism and principles on human rights for African unity and traditional sovereignty. But it also marked the arrival of South Africa in the world of international Realpolitik.

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