Human rights and foreign policy in
post-apartheid South Africa
On 19 February 1997 a brief exchange took place in the South African parliament between Colin Eglin, an opposition Member of Parliament, and Alfred Nzo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The subject matter of this dialogue was the impact of human rights violations on South Africa's relations with other countries. 1 There were three separate but related questions, which may be briefly paraphrased as follows. First, do fundamental human rights, and violations thereof, have any influence on the South African government's relationships with governments of other countries and what criteria does the South African government employ in its assessment of violations of human rights by governments of other countries? Second, in respect of what countries has the violation of human rights influenced the government's relationships with the governments of those countries? Third, has the government raised the issue of the violation of human rights with the governments of any other countries; if so, which governments? 2 In essence, the exchange was concerned with the role of human rights in South Africa's foreign policy.
In responding to these questions, the minister offered an affirmation of the new South African government's position on the role of human rights in foreign policy. With regard to the second question, the minister stated, in part: “The question of human rights is one of a number of factors that