07 Apr 2016

CCR and FHR public dialogue on “South Arica in Africa: National Interest vs. Human Rights”

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, in collaboration with the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR), Johannesburg, is holding a public dialogue on “South Arica in Africa: National Interest vs. Human Rights”. The meeting will be held on Monday, 11 April 2016 at the Centre for the Book, 62 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens, Cape Town, from 17h30 to 19h00.

Ambassador Welile Nhlapo, Former Special Representative of South Africa to the Great Lakes Region; and Former National Security Advisor to the South African President, and Ms Nicole Fritz, Independent Consultant, International Human Rights Law, Johannesburg, will address the meeting. Dr David Monyae, Co-Director, Confucius Institute, University of Johannesburg, has agreed to chair the meeting.

Under Nelson Mandela (1994–1999), South Africa’s pursuit of an “ethical” foreign policy was complicated by a persistent ambiguity about the country’s embrace of an African identity and uncertain grasp of the complexities of continental politics. The inherent challenge of a human rights-driven foreign policy in a region inhabited by fragile states – with several characterised by poor governance and autocratic misrule – was evident in Mandela’s diplomatic isolation in calling for collective action against Nigeria’s General Sani Abacha in 1995, following the brutal execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni activists. Thabo Mbeki subsequently adopted a more cautious approach to the promotion of human rights, while shaping the country’s diplomacy around the prioritisation of African interests. This “African Agenda”, along with human rights, has since endured as a centrepiece of Tshwane’s external relations. Mbeki’s South Africa played a key role in enshrining a right for the AU to intervene against egregious human rights abuses in its 2000 Constitutive Act, and spearheaded the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in 2003. However, the effectiveness of these continental mechanisms remains questionable. South Africa’s recent failure to arrest Sudanese leader, Omar al-Bashir, during an AU Summit in Johannesburg in June 2015, was also widely criticised.

For further information, please contact Elizabeth Myburgh at CCR: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More on the public dialogue » (PDF, 429KB)

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