ANC NEC Subcommittee on International Relations on its Policy Discussion Document

The African National Congress Subcommittee on International Relations presents to you, today, its Policy Discussion Document titled; The ANC in an unpredictable and uncertain world that is characterized by increased insecurity and the rise of populism

The Historical Mandate of the ANC: a progressive internationalism

The Discussion Document reflects on our historic mandate of progressive internationalism that shaped our current foreign policy outlook. In this regard, we confirm the centrality of Africa in our foreign policy, our commitment to the African Agenda, and the realization of a peaceful and prosperous continent, as envisaged by Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

Operational Context

This policy document takes into consideration the outcomes of the ANC National Conference held in Mangaung in 2012. Furthermore, it reflects on, respectively:

  •  The National Development Plan (NDP),
  • The outcomes of the 3rd International Solidarity Conference,
  • The NGC resolution on the Foreign Policy of Ubuntu,
  • Resolutions of the respective Leagues,
  • The Global Environment Chapter as outlined in the ANC Strategy and Tactics,
  • The Ready to govern policy document- with regard to foreign policy being informed by domestic imperatives.

It acknowledges the changes that took place since the 2012 Mangaung National Conference and the 2015 National General Council.
It extrapolates the ANC’s continued commitment to formulate and implement an independent foreign policy that seeks to address our domestic imperatives in a world that is characterized by increased populism and extremism, global insecurities and sluggish economic growth.

Balance of Forces

The above context necessitates reflections on the current world order, the balance of forces both within the individual countries, regionally, continentally and globally; and the role such forces play in shaping the agenda that protects the ideals of a world that is just, equitable, peaceful, and prosperous.

What we are also witnessing is the resurgence of militarization. This is not limited to the developed world but is occurring in some parts of the developing world, and is fueling conflicts in Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Furthermore, the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism is on the rise, and constitutes a major threat to international peace and security.

With global governance under strain due to geopolitics, coupled with the rise of right wing parties and anti-establishment governments, it is critical to assess this global balance of forces if the ANC is to fulfill its historic mandate of building a world of peaceful co- existence, tolerance to diversity, respect of the rule of law and the sovereignty of states.

This is in stark contrast to an agenda that perpetuates inequalities, intolerance of diversity, aggression, plunder and terrorism, poverty and underdevelopment.

This document looks at the evolving global dynamic and current geopolitics and seeks to locate South Africa within this prism.
No discussion around the balance of forces would be complete without a critical analysis of the role of international law as a tool and instrument of global governance. International law in all its facets, conventions, treaties and protocols, has to be based on the equity of states, respect of sovereignty and fairness.

International law should never be skewed in favor of powerful states who have for centuries used the international system to their advantage and to advance their own interests at the expense of the poor countries of the South.

Consistent with the resolution of the NGC regarding the withdrawal from ICC, the discussion document notes that South Africa has been involved in the processes leading to the merger of the African Court of Justice and the African Court of Human and People’s Rights; the review of the mandate of the Pan-African Parliament, and the operationalization of financial institutions such as the African Development Bank. This is to help the continent to craft its own homegrown solutions that are informed by a clear-eyed analysis of its own realities and the broader continental aspirations.

The ANC’s Role in Building a Better Africa

The realization of a prosperous, stable, secure and peaceful Africa is an important objective of the ANC’s International Relations Policy.

We aim to do this by, respectively:

  •  Strengthening the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in particular the SADC FTA
  • Developing a number of social, economic and political policies and protocols (NEPAD)
  •  Assisting with the peaceful resolution of Africa’s conflicts. We must work with progressive movements on the continent to silence the guns by 2020.
  • Accelerating continental integration so that we bolster economic growth for the betterment of our people.
  • Strengthening institutions and leadership
  • Consolidating African governance through adherence to AU principles of good governance and democracy as well as the APRM initiative.
  • This continental integration program must be anchored by Regional Economic Communities as building blocks in line with the established mechanisms such as the Abuja Treaty and the Lagos Plan of Action.
  • These includes sustaining efforts to create the AU’s financial autonomy and streamlining the organ’s work

All of the above will assist us to create conditions to bolster economic growth and move ahead with efforts to diversify our economies through industrialization.


The discussion document notes that South Africa’s role in BRICS is growing. At the same time we are alive to the changes in governments of our BRICS partners such as Brazil and assess how this could affect the cohesion in the forum in future.
The African Agenda must continue to guide our engagements in forums such as the BRICS. The BRICS New Development Bank shall become an alternative and effective funding mechanism for infrastructure development and socio-economic development in member countries and on our respective continents. South Africa will host the Africa office of the BRICS Bank, which will further strengthen our efforts to implement the vision of the African Renaissance.

Our focus in BRICS however shall not be construed as a negation of relations with countries of the North. Our understanding and approach is that these relations are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, they could be both complementary and reinforcing.

The ANC’s strategic role towards a better world

This discussion document underscores the importance of bridging the gap between the developed North and the developing South. To this end,

  • South Africa’s relationship with the North and the US in particular, remains crucial. The ANC notes that the new administration in the US has not yet pronounced on its Africa policy, and to this end we will adopt a wait-and-see approach. The renewal of AGOA too remains uncertain and the ANC calls on the South African government to engage with the new US administration to preserve AGOA.
  • We need to reflect on the impact of the BREXIT in our relations with the UK and future cooperation with the European Union as a block. We are also in this regard monitoring the outcomes of their recent member states elections and the effects thereof.
  •    Our priority remains the strengthening of relations with formations of the North to address global inequalities.
  • We must continue to implement the EU-Africa Strategy as well as entrench cooperation with G20 countries to stimulate shared growth and prosperity.
  • The ANC is steadfast in its belief that the international system should be responsive to the needs of developing countries, and we will continue with our advocacy for the reform of the United Nations and its organs, particularly the Security Council, in order to realize this objective.
  • Parliamentary Solidarity: the discussion document calls for an increased role of Parliamentarians in diplomacy through participation in forums such as the SADC parliamentary forum, Inter-Parliamentary Forum and the African Caribbean and Pacific Parliamentary Forum.
  • The Pan African Parliament should be transformed into a legislative body. We undertake to continue participating in its processes to further enhance democracy and good governance in Africa.

Economic Diplomacy

The discussion document underscores the need for a holistic economic diplomacy strategy that is coordinated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). Economic diplomacy is an important component of our foreign policy.

The establishment of a new economic diplomacy unit within DIRCO will enable us to take advantage of the economic boom on the continent and improve trade relations with both traditional and newly identified markets.

We are guided by the NDP injunction to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) and attract more tourists in order to build a resilient economy.

Party to Party Solidarity – on the continent and globally

The current global dynamic, heavily influenced by the rise of social movements, has precipitated the need to mobilize progressive forces towards building a World Movement against neo-colonialism and structural Global Economic Apartheid.

In this regard, maintaining solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the Global South remains a priority, in line with the mandate of the 3rd International Solidarity Conference.

The discussion document affirms the ANC’s position for the expansion of the international solidarity pillar in promoting peaceful and inclusive resolution of conflict.

To achieve this, the ANC will forge and maintain relations with countries, individuals, and like-minded organizations through Party-to-Party relations, and participation in multi-lateral forums to influence a progressive agenda for the benefit of humanity and for the overall development of society.

The discussion document further traces historical alliances that were formed to fight the scourge of apartheid in South Africa, colonialism, imperialism and other ills in the continent and other parts of the world.

It assesses the existence and strength of these alliances and whether the solidarity networks that were used could be revived and strengthened to continue the solidarity work with people who still suffer under the yoke of occupation.

The discussion document calls upon the ANC to utilize the 40 year anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 2017 to renew our commitment in support of the two-state solution.
Similarly, it calls on us to remain committed to the course of Western Sahara. Morocco’s readmission to the AU must serve as a catalyst and not a stumbling block.


The ANC’s National Policy Conference is taking place in the year declared by the ANC as the Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, a great internationalist and diplomat who

This document has been distributed widely to the public, various sectors, ANC structures in Provinces and to the Media for further engagements and enrichment. The inputs that will be received will form part of the discussions and outcome of the policy conference to be held later this month.


Issued by
Edna Molewa
Chairperson of the ANC NEC Subcommittee on International Relations

Zizi Kodwa 082 330 4910
National Spokesperson

Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707
National Communications Manager

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