Christian ethics, in the realm of foreign affairs is to be understood and supported by the Biblical ethic, which is centred on peace and goodwill.
Foremost, our foreign affairs policy is to protect our own interest and sovereign integrity, whilst being balanced with co-operative agreements among the international community.
We are also committed to engage with other governments on areas of mutual benefits such as human rights, good government practices and good democratic values.
The ACDP’s position pertaining to foreign affairs will be sensible and realistic with a view towards producing results rather than making an impression.
We will discourage the unnecessary expenditure of public money on frivolous pomp and ceremony and embassies and diplomats will be modestly funded.
The global environment
Competitiveness is a key factor in global market performance, and a nation’s fortunes depend on how it integrates into the international flow of trade, investment and technology.
In this respect globalisation determines its own values in terms of policy orientation. However, as globalisation seeks to offer conditions for a more equitable world, the question remains whether sufficient time and long term policy solutions can be accommodated to address problems such as unemployment, marginalisation and inequality.
The ACDP’s position on globalisation
- We must ensure equitable solutions to our social problems;
- Our national sovereign identity must be maintained.
South Africa needs to recognise that globalisation has created two important issues that need serious policy attention.
Firstly, we have to find new ways to protect domestic policies and our own national independence.
Secondly, we have to actively engage in the international arena and do our best to become an active force that will help bring about changes in the global environment that will benefit our own country and Africa in general.
African Renaissance inside a foreign policy framework
It must be stated that the African renaissance movement should not be stigmatised with a narrow and myopic Africanist view.
The continent of Africa presents us with a kaleidoscope of rich cultures and historical traditions, which have evolved into a capacity that, can engage with other continental cultures, and bring together an African continental flavour to all people within, as well as outside of Africa. In other words, a true African renaissance experience is only appreciative if it incorporates such diversities into the fold of this movement.
Problem areas of concern
There are however certain areas of concern that could threaten the movement, even before it has started:
- High Conflict War Zones
It is estimated that 25 percent of African states are high conflict war zones where chaos reigns.
- South African foreign policy to other African states
In many countries across Africa the foreign policy of South Africa has not created the desired congenial foreign relations. South Africa is still seen as an outsider, with not quite the kind of reach to extend its influence beyond the SADC nations.It is also perceived that South Africans do not understand the political nuances of Africa, and this could discredit South Africa’s role in mediation between warring factions, especially in those parts of Africa where conflict is at its most fierce.The whole problem of border disputes, demarcation policies that give rise to certain wars, etc. are types of political problems in Africa that we may know very little about, or haven’t even tried to address.
- The refugee problem
Africa has the largest population in the world. In 1969, when the leadership of our continent sought to resolve Africa’s refugee problem, there were about 70 000 refugees. It is estimated that today the figure exceeds 7 million, or approximately one third of the total world refugee problem.
- Economic underdevelopment
The gulf between the poor and the rich of the world is continuing to drift further apart. Of the 23 trillion dollars global GDP in 1993, 18 trillion is in the industrial countries only 5 trillion dollars are in the developing countries, even though they have nearly 80% of the worlds people.The poorest 20% of the world’s people saw their share of global income decline from 2,3% to 1,4% in the past 30 years. Meanwhile, the share of the richest 20% rose form 70% to 85%.
These are just a few of the problems. However, in order to effectively engage in foreign affairs issues we need to understand the nature and scope of the African task ahead of us, and not to drag the African renaissance ideal into superficial speculation and theoretical flippancy.
Promoting the African Renaissance ideal
The ACDP identifies 4 fronts upon which we should focus to assist in shaping the renaissance ideal.
Political justice and stability
The first is, political justice and stability.
The democratic ideal can only be safely secure if we aim to establish partnerships to help tackle areas that have destabilised the African continent for decades.
Such partnerships will of course promote trust and confidence, and by learning from each other, steady progress towards the greater good of all Africa will begin to surface.
Another field of influence is to implement policies that will boost Africa’s economic rejuvenation.
It is stated that the economies of thirty African countries grew at a rate of more than 5% in 1996, while there were a few reported to grow at even 10%. This is the type of momentum that we need to build on.
In other words, to achieve this we may need to change certain traditional mindsets and adopt positive economically viable principles.
For instance, African countries will have to, adopt measures such as fiscal discipline, trade liberalisation, appropriate social and educational policies, constitutionally guaranteed property rights, appropriate and responsible privatisation policies, safe and secure environments, just to name a few.
Intellectual capacity building
A further factor of significance is intellectual capacity building.
It does not serve Africa any good if its educational capacity is not drawn from the widest possible resources fields.
The intellectual eye of Africa should engage in global educational development, as well as promote its own intellectual contributions to the world.
It is therefore imperative that we do not allow for educational policies that are of mediocre standards, as this will surely lead to the betrayal of Africa’s significance as a world player.
Another important aspect within the African renaissance ideal, is the need for a new moral awakening upon this continent (an African Reformation).
By advocating for a moral renaissance, it in essence implies that in principle a latent morality is present.
The reason for such moral latency is because of the negative and evil influence of certain forces, be they tyrannical regimes or economic exploitative powers.
A resurgence of morality that moves against these destructive forces is long overdue.
The Bible teaches about a morality that flows from God, and upon which humans should engage their affairs within this world. A deviation of such moral standards is reduced to relativism and situational expediency and control.
Unless the acknowledgement of divine principles are understood as a warning to our human fallibility, our societies will always be subjected to exploitation and violent hostilities.
It is because of the absence of a moral consciousness that leaders were able to rule with tyrannical ruthlessness and plunder the state coffers at the expense of the people, causing much starvation and genocide and conflict.
Righteousness, justice, peace and the integrity and dignity of another human being have been isolated as being non-political principles, leading most countries to be ruled by authoritarian and despotic values.
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
The ACDP endorses the following objects formulated and contained within the preamble of the constitution of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
It states that members of the SADC regions are:
“Determined to promote respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, including the promotion and development of co-operation in the economic field in the SADC region based on the principle of equity and mutual benefit; and to promote peace, security and stability on the basis of collective responsibility and supporting the development of permanent conflict resolution mechanisms in the SADC sub-region and strengthening regional solidarity and building a sense of common destiny among the peoples of SADC.
Principles to steer our foreign relations policy
- The active contribution to uphold the dignity of an individual’s human rights and responsibilities; to fight for the rights of religious freedom and especially to intervene in cases where citizens of any other country are discriminated against or jailed for their beliefs;
- Cautious relationships with countries which flagrantly undermine the respect and practise of a multiparty democracy; to distance ourselves from any country that involves itself in acts of state terrorism or assists in the act toward terrorism in any form or kind;
- To be committed to justice and international law and to build up respect in our relations between nations;
- To be committed to international peace and to contribute to the processes to resolve areas of dispute or conflict; to vigorously employ mechanisms to develop the economic and social infrastructure of our society in co-operation with regional and international relations.
- We will, as far as possible dedicate ourselves to address the plight of the destitute, victims of war, refugees and children by pledging our support and assistance to those organisations involved in relief, development and restoration through the various international mediation bodies.