South Africa's foreign policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe : constructivism as a framework to highlight the contradictory norms of human rights and African solidarity

Coetzee, Cari (2004-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The downward spiral of Zimbabwe under President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the slide into lawlessness has excited international opinion. Perhaps even more controversial, has been South African President Thabo Mbeki's obvious reticence to condemn Mugabe's increasing authoritarianism and breach of human rights and democratic standards. South Africa's foreign policy of 'quiet diplomacy' towards Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has received strong criticism. Whilst both domestic and international audiences expected South Africa to take a stronger stance towards Mugabe because of his increasing violation of human rights and democratic standards, President Mbeki has been notably reticent to publicly criticise Mugabe. Consequently, the South African government has been criticised for condoning Mugabe's behaviour, which in turn has raised questions as to South Africa's commitment to the advocacy of human rights and its attempts to establish a leadership position in Africa. Although both internal and external pressures have given rise to South Africa's strong commitment to the international norm of human rights in 1994, this commitment seemed to weaken as the years passed. The commitment to human rights, that was especially prominent during the Nelson Mandela presidency, has given rise to foreign policy tensions and contradictions within the South African government. South Africa's turn to multilateral mechanisms as the main vehicle for South Africa's principled commitment to human rights has been accompanied by a decline in the priority placed on this principle. This loss of ardour in the commitment to the human rights advocacy, moreover, has seemed to increase during the Mbeki presidency. President Mbeki's desire to playa leadership role in Africa and his vision for African renewal and rebirth have been accompanied by a stronger emphasis on African solidarity as a foreign policy principle. South Africa's commitment to the norm of human rights, however, has thwarted South Africa's attempts to strengthen African solidarity since it required a rejection of the norms of 'state sovereignty' and 'not to speak out against each other'. Since high priority is attached to these norms in Africa, contradictions arose between the norms of human rights advocacy and African solidarity. This study argues that South Africa's policy of 'quiet diplomacy' towards Zimbabwe can only be understood by focusing on the role of norms and identity on South Africa's policy. It aims to illustrate how South Africa's aspiration for continental leadership has constrained its commitment to human rights advocacy, as accentuated by the Zimbabwean crisis. This study explores the role of norms and identity in South Africa's foreign policy decisions towards Zimbabwe by drawing on constructivism as a theoretical framework. The international relations theory of constructivism provides a framework for analysing the potential influence of norms in international relations. Constructivism illustrates that South Africa's freedom of action has been determined by the interplay between policy actors and social forces with very different ideological convictions about the country in the world, the pressures incumbent upon it and the extent to which it can influence world affairs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Zimbabwe se toenemende ekonomiese en politieke agteruitgang onder die presidentskap van Robert Gabriel Mugabe, asook die geleidelike oorgang na wetteloosheid, het internasionale veroordeling voortgebring. President Thabo Mbeki van Suid-Afrika se ooglopende teensinnigheid om Mugabe se toenemende outoriteit en skending van menseregte en demokratiese standaarde te veroordeel, was selfs meer omstrede. Suid-Afrika se buitelandse beleid van 'stille diplomasie' teenoor President Mugabe van Zimbabwe het dus sterk kritiek uitgelok. Terwyl beide binnelandse en internasionale sfere van Suid-Afrika verwag het om 'n sterker standpunt teenoor Mugabe in te neem in die lig van Mugabe se toenemende skending van menseregte en demokratiese standaarde, was President Mbeki merkbaar teensinnig om Mugabe openlik te kritiseer. Die Suid-Afrikaanse regering is gevolglik daarvan beskuldig dat dit Mugabe se gedrag verskoon, wat weer aanleiding gegee het tot die bevraagtekening van Suid-Afrika se verbintenis tot die bevordering van menseregte en pogings om 'n leierskapsposisie in Afrika te vestig. Alhoewel beide interne en eksterne druk tot Suid-Afrika se sterk verbintenis tot die internasionale norm van menseregte in 1994 bygedra het, het hierdie verbintenis mettertyd geleidelik vervaag. Hierdie verbintenis tot menseregte was veral prominent gedurende die Mandela presidentskap en het spoedig aanleiding tot spanning en teenstrydighede in Suid-Afrika se buitelandse beleid gegee. Suid-Afrika se wending tot multilaterale meganismes as voertuig vir die bevordering van menseregte, het dus gepaard gegaan met 'n afname in die prioriteit wat aan hierdie beginsel geheg word. Hierdie afname in Suid-Afrika se dryfkrag in hul verbintenis tot die bevordering van menseregte, het gedurende die Mbeki presidentskap vergroot. President Mbeki se begeerte om 'n leiersposisie in Afrika in te neem, asook sy visie vir Afrika hernuwing en herlewing, het dus gepaard gegaan met 'n sterker klem op die belang van Afrika solidariteit as 'n buitelandse beleidsbeginsel. Suid-Afrika se verbintenis tot menseregte het egter Suid-Afrika se pogings om Afrika solidariteit te bevorder, verhinder, aangesien 'n verbintenis tot menseregte die verwerping van die norme van 'staatsoewereiniteit' en 'nie teenoor mekaar uit te praat nie' vereis het. Aangesien hierdie twee laasgenoemde norme steeds voorrang geniet in die Afrika konteks, het daar teenstrydighede tussen die norme van menseregte en Afrika solidariteit ontstaan. Hierdie studie argumenteer dat Suid-Afrika se beleid van 'stille diplomasie' teenoor Zimbabwe slegs begryp kan word deur op die rol van norme en identiteit op Suid-Afrika se beleid te fokus. Daar word gepoog om te illustreer hoe Suid-Afrika se aspirasie om 'n leiersposisie in Afrika in te neem, beperk is deur die verbintenis tot die bevordering van menseregte, soos beklemtoon deur die krisis in Zimbabwe. Hierdie studie ondersoek dus die rol van norme en identiteit op Suid-Afrika se buitelandse beleidsbesluite teenoor Zimbabwe met behulp van konstruktivisme as 'n teoretiese raamwerk. Die internasionale betrekkinge teorie van konstruktivisme bied 'n raamwerk vir die analise van die potensiële invloed van norme in internasionale betrekkinge. Konstruktivisme illustreer dat Suid-Afrika se vryheid van aksie bepaal word deur die wisselwerking tussen beleidsakteurs en sosiale kragte met verskillende ideologiese oortuigings oor die staat in die wêreld, die druk wat daarop inwerk en die mate waartoe dit wêreld gebeure kan beïnvloed.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50099
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