Foreign Policy Strategy for Developing States Essay Example
All countries have to exist in their regional context and are gifted with God given natural as well as human resources. It is these realities which are associated with a nation that have the greatest impact on a nation’s foreign policy and its desire to selectively interact with other nations for their mutual benefit. In an era of a new global economic order, foreign policy is also shaped by the nation’s economic interests and its desire to generate trade flows as well as being able to attract foreign investments. Very little morality exists in foreign policy maters which aim to protect vital national interests, but the rule of law, a respect for human rights and democracy are amongst the ingredients which can place a nation in good stead. However, inequalities amongst nations have been said to have been significantly magnified in the new era of globalisation and the African continent is home to some of the poorest nations on earth. This brief essay takes a look at two hypothetical countries in Africa with a situation that is similar to that of South Africa and Equatorial Guinea, with a view to trying to understand their peculiar foreign policy requirements.
Foreign Policy for a Country such as South Africa which is
a Democratic Middle Power with a Regional Hegemony 5
Foreign Policy for a Country such as Equatorial Guinea
with a less developed Economy and an Autocratic Government 9
Appendix A – Assignment Question 13
References / Bibliography15
In an era of economic globalization and instant communications, the conduct of a nation’s foreign policy has assumed a greater level of significance for the economic well being of its citizens and the nation’s prospects for the future. Foreign policy is no longer just directed towards maintaining cordial and mutually beneficial relationships with a country’s neighbours. Constructive relationships need to be developed and maintained with powerful regional economic groups as well as the more advanced nations of the world so that industrialization as well as investment can be made possible (Gilpin, 2002, Pp. 1 — 10). It is important that a nation should somehow be able to fit itself within the global sphere of economic activities so that future progress can be made possible. Trade and foreign investments as well as an ability to attract the multinationals are vital for the growth of a developing nation and this point is well understood when the surprisingly rapid growth of the nations of South East Asia is considered. In a sharp contrast to the nations of South East Asia, most of the nations in Africa have been characterized by poor economic performance and calls for the democratization of political life (Shaw, 2003, Pp. 1 — 5) and (McGowan, 2002, Pp. 5 — 15). The growing pains associated with trying to establish economics, politics and societies under a second and third generation leadership can still be observed in the Dark Continent. In such a scenario, it is important that states within the troubled continent endeavour to carefully formulate their foreign policies with an acute eye for opportunities which can be grasped as they are offered by the rapidly changing political and economic realities of the world (Taylor, 2003, Pp. 1 — 3).
Whereas the African Continent is home to many nations with their own unique set of foreign policy requirements as well as problems confronting them, it is instructive to consider two hypothetical states in Africa which can help illustrate the issues associated with foreign policy formulation (McGowan, 2002, Pp. 1 — 15). One of the two states is a democratic middle power, such as South Africa, regarded as having a regional hegemony in Africa, while the other state is an autocratic lesser developed country in Africa, such as Equatorial Guinea, which has recently discovered vast oil reserves. The states under consideration are characterized by varying degrees of socio-economic inequality, and experience overt and covert external interference. The foreign policy of each of the two countries will be a structured set of directives based on the social values, principles and objectives of each of the two countries which will directed towards controlling or adjusting external conditions or problems confronting the country. Foreign policy will have an impact on the level of development in the country and the security situation for the country. In the present context, development refers to control of resources to eradicate poverty through the improvement of and access to employment, education, health, welfare and basic services, while security refers to territorial integrity, political stability and the safety of the population from violence as well as conflict (Appendix A).
The next two sections take a look at the foreign policy situation for each of the two countries which have been previously described.
Foreign Policy for a Country such as South Africa which is a Democratic Middle Power with a Regional Hegemony
A country such as South Africa is geographically located to provide access to the ocean with a vast coastline. The country is surrounded by much lesser developed countries and because of its history the population has cultural links with the more developed countries of Europe, including the United Kingdom. South Africa has a well developed economy and although there is a scarcity of water as well as inland rivers, there is an abundance of natural resources including platinum, gold and chromium. There is, however, a need to import petroleum to meet the requirements associated with domestic consumption and Iran currently supplies most of the fuel requirements. A well developed infrastructure consisting of road, railways and communication links has been put into place along with a well developed financial system and distribution system. Although the population consists of predominantly Black Africans, people of European and Indian decent are also represented, with the people of the European group having the greatest control of the economic resources of the country. The country has had a history of group conflict and apartheid in its past which is on its way towards a satisfactory resolution. The industrial sector is also well developed and economic linkages exist with the global financial and commodity markets. Despite the relatively advanced economy, the country has had to face international pressures as a result of its domestic policies of apartheid and inter-group conflict (The CIA World Factbook, 2005, Pp. 1).
Because of the fact that the economies of the neighbouring countries are less developed as compared to that of the country under consideration, there are covert threats from illegal immigration, terrorism as a result of inter – group conflicts and censure in international forums as well as economic sanctions or warfare. However, as a result of changed thinking about apartheid in the region, the situation has now improved and opportunities exist for greater cooperation amongst the nations in the region. Such cooperation is likely to benefit a country similar to South Africa because it will be in a position to tap into far larger markets to sell its products as well as being able to neutralise covert threats to its security arising as a result of illegal immigration, for example, in a non – violent manner. There is a need for this country to pursue a realist / liberal foreign policy because there are opportunities to play a leading role in the region and to attract global attention for the region. International attention is already focused on this country because it is the leading producer of many rare minerals as well as being a supplier of arms and ammunition from its highly developed defence industries. However, there are opportunities for greater collaboration on a much broader front with all nations of the world (African National Congress, 2005, Pp. 1 — 6) and (Henwood, 1997, Pp. 1 — 10).
In the light of the previously mentioned facts, the following are some of the more important pillars of the foreign policy for this country (Henwood, 1997, Pp. 4 — 15):
— The national interests of this country should always be the most important consideration in deciding foreign policy matters.
— Because there is a need to present a unified stand in matters of foreign policy, there is a need to work closely with the national parliament through its foreign affairs committees in order to conduct foreign policy.
— There must be a commitment to promoting regional interests and the interests of Africa at large in international affairs.
— Because the country under consideration is more affluent and developed as compared to its neighbours, there is an opportunity to stand for the protection as well as the promotion of human rights in the region. Such a stance is also likely to win greater international respect for the country. Freedom and democracy should also be promoted around the world.
— The country should follow the principles of justice and international law in its relations with other states with a commitment to international peace and the resolution of any interstate disputes through the use of agreed mechanism for conflict resolution such as the use of the United Nations system or the International Court of Justice.
— The country should endeavour to expand its participation in international forums, including regional, continental and global multilateral organizations.
— Added efforts should be made to expand bilateral relations with countries of the North, especially the advanced economies of North America and Europe so that continued business, technical, cultural and political cooperation can be made sustainable.
— Attempts should be made to develop greater relations with countries of the South in order to further develop the exports of the country as well as making the country a more desirable destination for tourism, cultural and educational exchanges.
— Because of a need to have a stable region around the country under consideration, it is important to have a greater alignment with the security system of the new free world order in which the United States of America, United Kingdom as well as France, Germany and Italy have been playing a leading role.
— Attempts should also be made to develop deeper and more meaningful relations with nations that are at a greater distance from South Africa so that opportunities for further enhancing trade and cultural relations can be explored with a view to expanding the nation’s international trade.
— There is a need to present a principled stand which is based on the principles of justice as well as non – violence in international conflicts which do not directly concern the country, without becoming involved in such conflicts. The nation should also try to play its part in the maintenance of international security and the security of international trade while taking part in scientific as well as technical collaboration.
— Special efforts should be made to maintain the friendly ties that exist with nations that provided immigrants to the country including Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, nations of South Asia such as India and those of South East Asia such as Malaysia and Singapore.
The country under consideration has had a policy of apartheid as a part of its domestic policy and there are also problems associated with famine and draught due to a scarcity of water which can occur. Additional efforts are, therefore, required to build better relations with other neighbouring states and to try and jointly put into place mechanisms for solving the problems arising out of a lack of adequate water supplies in the region. There is a need for the country to try and assume a leadership role in the region and such a posture will be in the interest of the country as well as the region as a whole.
In the next section, the foreign policy issues associated with a country similar to Equatorial Guinea are concerned.
Foreign Policy for a Country such as Equatorial Guinea with a less developed Economy and an Autocratic Government
Equatorial Guinea was a former Spanish colony which gained its independence after 190 years of colonial rule in 1968. The country is one of the smallest countries in Africa and consists of a small mainland as well as five islands. The total area is a mere 28,000 sq km which is smaller then the area of the state of Maryland in the United States of America. The country has been under the autocratic rule of the same family since its independence, although its present leader, President Brig. Gen (Ret) OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, who has ruled the country for the past two decades, seized power from his uncle in a 1979 coup. There has been a semblance of democracy, but the last elections resulted in the present leader being elected by a 97.1% majority and widespread electoral fraud was reported. Although farming, fishing and forestry make important contributions to the national economy, the recent discovery of substantial reserves of crude oil has given the country a much needed boost. Undeveloped reserves of titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and alluvial gold also exist in the country. All major businesses are owned by members of the ruling family and the World Bank decided to cut off its aid programs because of widespread corruption and mismanagement. Spain, unlike the United Kingdom, has not been a colonial power which is noted for its democratic legacy or for having put into place a particularly effective structure for governance. In the absence of Spain as an effective former colonial ruler, the present day Equatorial Guinea has tried to establish effective relations with France and French advisors work for the government. The country is bordered by Gabon and Cameroon; however, it also lives under the sphere of influence of Nigeria, an oil rich former British colony which, because of its resources and population, has been called the Giant of Africa. Workers from Nigeria also work in the country, although relations with Nigeria have also been marred by problems. The International Court of Justice ruled on a maritime territorial dispute between Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon. A sovereignty dispute exists between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea over an island which the international community wants to resolve amicably. The country does not seem to enjoy a particularly cordial relationship with any country of the world and even the United States of America opened an embassy in the country in 2001. The United States of America buys nearly two thirds of the 500 million barrels per day of oil which Equatorial Guinea produces. Equatorial Guinea is a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), which includes Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo/Brazzaville, and Gabon. The nation’s tilt towards France has gone to the extent of making the study of the French language compulsory in its schools. This must have left its population highly confused because of the country having been a colony of Spain for 190 years (The CIA World Factbook, 2005, Pp 1) and (Worldmark Encyclopaedia, 2005, Pp. 1).
Major changes have to be implemented in the country and its foreign policy if real progress can be made. The discovery of the oil reserves must have helped, but for foreign investments to be possible, the country has to move towards democracy. The country has to pursue a realist posture and understand that it has a dire need to trade in commodities other then oil, develop its economy and to come to terms with its neighbours, while attempting to continue on to the path of progress by attracting investment and sustainable industry. The following should be the important components of the foreign policy of a country like Equatorial Guinea (Worldmark Encyclopaedia, 2005, Pp. 1) and (Obadare, 2001, Pp. 80 — 86):
— The country should attempt to seek enduring peace with its neighbours by attempting to resolve all outstanding territorial disputes in accordance with the accepted principles of international law and with due consideration of the will of the international community.
— Apart from France, efforts should also be made to develop better relations with the United States of America and the leading countries of Europe such as United Kingdom, Germany and Netherlands etc. For this to take place, however, a certain progress towards democracy and the creation of stable democratic institutions will be required.
— Attempts should be made to seek the assistance of any nation which can assist in the development of viable industry in the country.
— An attempt should be made to enter into some sort of a security arrangement with other regional or global powers so that the probability of a security threat being posed by Gabon and Cameroon can be minimised. It is far better to try and develop a security arrangement with the Western powers, preferably the United States or France because these countries can also assist in the establishment of viable industry in the country. Regional security arrangements with Nigeria can assist, but it is unlikely that Nigeria can assist Equatorial Guinea in the establishment of a viable industrial base.
— A country similar to Equatorial Guinea does have a hope of enjoying prosperity only if its people are willing to develop their skills and education, thus enhancing their capabilities. Hence, it is important to seek assistance from developed nations and bodies such as the United Nations to provide adequate training opportunities for its people. Singapore was able to establish itself as a leading nation in the South East Asian region only because of the enterprising nature of its people and its friendship with the more developed nations of Oceania, Asia, Europe and North America.
— Efforts should also be made to develop better relations with countries of the South and to explore the possibility of these countries assisting Equatorial Guinea in the establishment of industries for supply of products such as textile to Cameroon, Gabon and the interior of Africa.
— Efforts should be made to enter into a dialogue with China, Japan and South Korea to assist in the establishment of viable manufacturing industries to supply manufactured products for Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon as well as other countries in the interior of Africa.
— It has to be realised that Equatorial Guinea is for too small a power to take anything but a principled stand based on the principles of justice in international disputes. Hence, the nation should avoid any controversial stand in such matters and be only concerned with its own interests.
— All efforts should be made to promote the natural heritage of Equatorial Guinea in order to attract an interest in other nations.
Even a virtual dictator like the present President of Equatorial Guinea can make an attempt to move the country in the direction of real progress provided that democracy and human rights are promoted and a sincere effort is made (Owen, 2005, Pp. 1 — 10). Lee Kwan Yew did the same for Singapore and the natural resources of Equatorial Guinea are vastly superior to those of Singapore. However, there is a dire need to develop its human resources. Without the development of its human resources, Equatorial Guinea faces a bleak long term future.
It can be concluded that the most appropriate foreign policy for any nation will depend on its regional situation and the potential for its economic development based on the natural as well as the human resources with which the nation has been endowed. However, in an era of globalization, free trade as well as economic competitions, it is important to generate trade flows and be in a position to attract investments. This can only be done if the nation is willing to establish liberal democratic institutions and promote human rights as well as taking a principled stand based on the accepted principles of justice. It pays for African nations to try and make the effort to develop better relations with the advanced economies of North America, Europe, Asia and the Far East.
Appendix A – Text of the Assignment
You are a foreign policy advisor to developing states. Develop a foreign policy strategy on issues of development and security for two of the following three cases:
(a) A democratic middle power, such as South Africa, regarded as having a regional hegemony in Africa;
(b) An autocratic lesser developed country in Africa, such as Equatorial Guinea, which has recently discovered vast oil reserves;
(c) A democratic lesser developed country, such as Malawi, with the cultivation of cash crops as one of its primary economic activities.
All three states are characterised by varying degrees of socio-economic inequality, and experience overt and covert external interference.
‘Foreign policy’ is here understood as explained in the prescribed text book (McGowan and Nel, 2002), i.e. a structured set of directives based on social values, principles and objectives, and aimed at creating, controlling or adjusting external conditions or problems.
‘Development’ refers to the control of resources to eradicate poverty through the improvement of and access to employment, education, health, welfare and basic services.
‘Security’ refers to territorial integrity, political stability, the safety of the population from violence and conflict.
Include in each strategy the country’s recommended orientation in relation to the North; the region; the sub-region; and the rest of the South, as expressed in its foreign policy approach to multilateral and bilateral relations.
Also focus on the theme: Should a realist, liberal or critical theory posture be adopted in the strategy, and why? What are the constraints faced in each case, and what is their impact?
As foreign policy is informed by domestic policies, a brief indication of the foreign policy relationship with domestic policy-making should be provided in instances where it is appropriate.
Motivate recommendations with examples and factual evidence.
References / Bibliography
- African National Congress. 2005. Foreign Policy Perspective in a Democratic South Africa. African National Congress. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/policy/foreign.html
- Gilpin, Robert. 2002. Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order. Princeton University Press. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/s7093.html
- Henwood, Roland. 1997. South Africa’s Foreign Policy: Principles and Problems. University of Pretoria. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.iss.co.za/Pubs/Monographs/No13/Henwood.html
- McGowan and Nel (eds). 2002. Power, Wealth and Global Equity: an international relations textbook for Africa, 2d ed. UCT Press.
- Nuamah, Rosemary. 2003. Nigeria’s Foreign Policy after the Cold War: Domestic, Regional and External Influences. University of Oxford. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.ipacademy.org/PDF_Reports/NIGERIAS_FOREIGN_POLICY.pdf
- Obadare, Ebenezer. 2001. Constructing Pax Nigeriana? The Media and Conflict in Nigeria-Equatorial Guinea Relations. Nordic Journal of African Studies 10(1): 80-89 (2001). Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol10num1/obadare.pdf
- Owen, John Wyn and Olivia Roberts. 2005. Globalization, health and foreign policy: emerging linkages and interests. Global Health. 2005; 1: 12. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1188066
- Shaw, Timothy. M. 2003. Conflict and Peace — building in Africa: The Regional Dimensions. United Nations University. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/dps/dps2003/dp2003-10.pdf
- Taylor, Ian. 2003. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Global Political Economy: Towards the African Century or Another False Start? University of Botswana. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.codesria.org/Links/conferences/Nepad/taylor.pdf
- The CIA World Factbook. 2005. Equatorial Guinea. The CIA World Factbook. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ek.html
- The CIA World Factbook. 2005. South Africa. The CIA World Factbook. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/sf.html
- Worldmark Encyclopaedia of the Nations. 2005. Equatorial Guinea: Foreign Policy. Thomson Gale. Retrieved: November 10, 2005. From: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/World-Leaders-2003/Equatorial-Guinea-FOREIGN-POLICY.html
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