South Africa as a Middle Power at the WTO Brokering African Interests?

Lotze, Walter (2007-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science. International Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Post-apartheid foreign policy has witnessed a fundamental shift in South African foreign policy objectives and strategies as the country has aimed to move from a pariah to a participant in the international community. Since 1994, South Africa has become an active player in the international system and has assumed an increasingly active role in international organisations. One distinct strand of South African foreign policy which has emerged is a commitment to the use and support of multilateralism. Yet, as the country has become increasingly active in multilateral fora, so too, it is argued, has it been torn between the promotion of its own interests and those of its African peers. At times South Africa is seen to vociferously champion African interests, and at others to sideline the interests of its African partners and the notion of the African Renaissance, in favour of its own interests. Yet, whilst inconsistencies in South African multilateral foreign policy exist, this study argues that overall, South Africa has actively and consciously attempted to establish itself as an African middle power within the international system, and to create a distinct niche for itself as “the voice of Africa” in multilateral fora. Employing a Middle Power approach and utilising the concept of niche-building diplomacy this study investigates first, South Africa’s middle power niche in the international system at large, before, secondly, investigating South Africa’s role at the World Trade Organisation. The study concludes that, while South Africa has continually attempted to establish itself as “the voice of Africa” in a range of multilateral fora and has acted in a manner consistent with this stated objective, it has acted contrary to its established niche at the World Trade Organisation since joining this organisation in 1994. Indeed, this study finds that whereas in other multilateral fora South Africa has acted as the standard-bearer of African interests, in the World Trade Organisation it has acted contrary to African interests time and again. The findings indicate that the Middle Power concept in international relations itself needs to be revisited, that South Africa’s role as a middle power in the international system requires greater investigation, and that further research is required on the roles played by other middle powers at the World Trade Organisation.

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