South Africa appears to be at a crossroads in defining its foreign policy priorities; particularly in terms of its peace and security engagements in Africa.
On the one hand, the country still places peace and security engagements at the core of its priorities in the continent. On the other hand, its approaches to peace and security are increasingly being questioned.
This comes at a time when there is a growing drive to bring prevention to the core of global responses to conflict; the result of an increasing realisation that such responses need to become more proactive, inclusive and ultimately more effective.
Acknowledging that the international community has not reached the potential of its peace and security tools, theUnited Nations (UN) conducted three reviews on its approaches to peace operations, peacebuilding and women, peace and security last year.
The reviews reinforced the point that conflict prevention must be brought to the forefront of all UN initiatives. Similarly, the African Union (AU), in its efforts to achieve its vision for Africa in 2063, has declared its intentions to silence the guns by 2020.
South Africa has long advocated for better use of conflict-prevention mechanisms internationally, including for tools like mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding support to be better integrated. South Africa could therefore become a more active player in assisting the UN and AU as the organisations rethink their conflict-prevention initiatives. South Africa could also assume a more important role in preventing the outbreak of conflicts on the continent.
This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies. Read full article here.