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Assessing South Africa’s strategic options of soft power application through civic interest groups

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Abstract:

South African foreign policy is premised on the African Renaissance concept of good governance. The country’s good governance objectives are to strive for world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war. Furthermore, South Africa's foreign policy is informed by its domestic policy which is guided by the vision of a democratic South Africa that promotes best practices with regard to good governance regionally and globally. Given its vision of effective global governance, South African foreign policy faces many challenges due to the various continental demands that include global food shortages, low intensity conflict, and low employment levels. This article argues that South Africa cannot accomplish its foreign policy objectives by itself and advocates the use of civic interest groups as a strategic tool of implementing soft power. In demonstrating the impact of civic interest groups as a foreign policy instrument, the article illustrates how globalisation has changed the world of international diplomacy, requiring non-state actors to become more active in transforming the economic and political playing field. Throughout the discussion, the South African Dialogue for Women is used as a case study that demonstrates how South Africa could further achieve its objectives of African Renaissance by supporting civil society initiatives in promoting good governance on the ground.

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