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Pax South Africana and the Responsibility to Protect

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This essay examines the leading role adopted by the South African governments of Nelson Mandela, abo Mbeki, and Jacob Zuma to promote R2P between 1994 and 2010. In response to the sociopolitical oppression and devastation wrought by apartheid between 1948 and 1990, South African governments since 1994 have played an activist role in developing new norms in international affairs. Describing the South African posture on R2P as one of engagement and 'quiet diplomacy', the essay notes that the country has pushed for multilateral institutions to become the major repositories of the R2P norm. Within Africa, South Africa was instrumental in negotiating the continent's shift of position on the R2P norm from one of 'non-intervention' to one of 'non-indifference'. South Africa has also sought to implement R2P through political processes and negotiations rather than through sanctions and the use of force—an engagist stance that the country adopted during its controversial two years on the UN Security Council (2007–2008), contrary to the tougher approach recommended by powerful Western members of the Security Council. Emphasis is placed on the capacity constraints with which South Africa continues to struggle, as it seeks to operationalise its position on R2P.


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