Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linkedin Follow us on YouTube

Entering into the fray? The extremist threat in Cabo Delgado: strategic policy choices for South Africa and SADC

The extremist threat in Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique has been on the rise since October 2017, with recent reports pointing to a 300% escalation between 2019 and 2020 in violent events that have so far claimed over 1495 lives and resulted in the internal displacement of over 250000 people. The risk of regional spill-over and looming humanitarian crisis... 
Read full report...

The Global Politics of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), set forth by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on 10th December, 1948, is the foundational document for national and international laws concerning human dignity. It proclaims that the human rights spelled out in its 30 Articles are truly universal, applying to all human beings, and inalienable, hence not subject to...

Download full publication

SA, Africa & the Global Balance of Forces: Combining Solidarity with Strategic Action

During its remaining tenure on the UN Security Council and as rotating Chair of the African Union, South Africa will have to engage decisively in the conduct of strategic geopolitical power diplomacy if it is to regain the ‘punching above its weight’ momentum on the international scene it once enjoyed....


Brazil’s 2019 Chairship of the BRICS: Charting a Course for 2020

During Brazil’s 2019 chairship, the five BRICS countries were clear about their intentions to make cooperation more inclusive by supporting the spirit of cooperation among business, scholars, media and civil society organisations, as well as building upon government interactions. Brazil, under the theme of the summit 'BRICS: Economic Growth for an Innovative Future', aimed to promote deliverables that would have a direct impact on lives of societies and...
Download the full report here

The Horn of Africa-Persian Gulf nexus: inter-regional dynamics and the reshaping of regional order in geopolitical flux

The Horn of Africa is a complex site of geopolitical and geostrategic importance, inextricably linked to key aspects of its history and geography. The uptick in engagement by external actors, and their attendant interests, alliances and agendas, underscore the pivotal role of geopolitics in shaping the security and economic trajectory of the region. The proximity of...
Download full report

ZOONOTICA: An IGD Series on Reimagining Post Pandemic International Relations

The international relations of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its dystopian overtones forces all of us to begin doing a rethink of the global and regional politics and economics of the world we live in and its cultural domensions that have brought us to this point. Join the Institute for Global Dialogue as we interrogate and dive deep into a post-pandemic terra nova, convening a diverse range of expert voices from perspectives such as contemporary politics, ...

ZOONOTICA: An IGD Series on Reimagining Post-Pandemic International Relations


The international relations of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its dystopian overtones forces all of us to begin doing a rethink of the global and regional politics and economics of the world we live in and its cultural dimensions that have brought us to this point.

Join the Institute for Global Dialogue as we interrogate and dive deep into a post-pandemic terra nova, convening a diverse range of expert voices from perspectives such as contemporary politics, international relations, economics, science, ICT, culture, geopolitics, scenario planning, risk analysis and so much more.

Click here for the call for contributions.


Listen on:


Africa Update: Ethiopia - SAfm 17 July 2020

Commentaries on the GERD Nile dispute on SAfm by Faith Mabera Senior Researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue

Africa Update: Ethiopia - SAfm 23 July 2020

Commentaries on the GERD Nile dispute on SAfm by Faith Mabera Senior Researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue


Sanusha Naidu discusses South Africa's approach to COVID19

Sanusha Naidu, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue, unpacks #SouthAfrica's thinking around the relaxing of #lockdown measures...

The African Response to COVID-19

Department of International Relations and Cooperation

COVID-19 and Impact on Value Chains: The Role of BRICS

Online round table “Risks to the functioning of the value chains in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: how can the BRICS countries respond?”

Interviews from Caracas: Africa's Response to COVID-19 (Africa Month)

TeleSUR English

Post-COVID-19: Implications for International Cooperation

The world is working on mitigating the enormous challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Philani Mthembu and Sanusha Naidu sharing insights on ‘The Pandemic in Africa: Local and Global Strategies’: Panel Discussion hosted by the Global Research Forum on Diapora and Transformation (GRFDT), virtual network based in Mumbai.

The Pandemic in Africa: Local and Global Strategies: Panel Discussion

Dr Mthembu examined South Africa's response to the Crisis and the implications this has for the migrant community.

The Pandemic in Africa: Local and Global Strategies: Panel Discussion

Ms Naidu explored the international dimension of the Pandemic on the institutional architecture of the global multilateral system.

Rethinking challenges to SADC’s Maritime Security model

Andrea RoyeppenThe South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula addressed delegates of the 4th Conference on International Security in Russia earlier this year on the issue of threats to maritime security from the perspective of SADC and specifically, South Africa. With 90% of African trade taking place at sea, the importance of economic development and opportunity for cooperation at a state and regional level was emphasised. By 2027, the SADC region will have processed an estimated 500 million tonnes of traffic through its East, West and Southern seaboards. Most central to this and many discussions on maritime activity in Southern Africa, is the focus on security centric issues like piracy, crime, illegal fishing, trafficking and exploitation of minerals and resources. These largely overstated threats form part of SADC’s maritime priorities and current challenges are framed in terms of these issues. However, are the weaknesses in SADC’s approach to maritime security an issue of failing to address these challenges, or is it that the whole model needs to be more inclusive of threats beyond this traditional notion of security? This piece seeks to broaden the conversation on challenges to SADC’s maritime model by expanding the conceptualisation of threat to include those that do not necessarily require a militaristic response.

The SADC response to threats at sea became more robust around 2011 when the SADC Maritime Security Strategy was signed. Member states, Mozambique and South Africa have worked together in Operation Copper which was developed in response to pirate activity in the Mozambique Channel and the South African involvement in Operation Copper has been extended to March 2016 by President Jacob Zuma. The response of SADC reveals a commitment to continental standards by corresponding with the African Union’s 2050 Maritime Security Strategy. The entirety of SADC’s maritime security strategy has not been fully disclosed to the public but there are clear areas of focus: eradication of piracy, securing the West coast of Southern Africa, protection of Southern Africa’s rivers and lakes, military defence and intelligence gathering. However, the implementation of these activities is undermined by SADC’s limited naval capacity and South Africa has taken the lead in organising the funding and implementation of these activities. The recent success of Project Biro, which refers to the South African navy’s acquisition of six new patrol vessels is an example of this as the regional organisation can now deal with deterring piracy, illegal fishing and trafficking in the region more effectively. However, this reliance on South Africa becomes problematic when looking at the perceived hegemonic status of South Africa in SADC and its ability to negotiate the balance between maintaining its own interests and that of the region.

The Decline of Piracy: reimagining security threats at sea
Piracy is ultimately an activity conceptualised and planned on land and should therefore be seen as an extension of organised crime which should be dealt with before it reaches the sea. This early and more preventative approach will direct a response that is less reactionary. In 2013, hardly any attacks had been reported and marked the decline in the rate of piracy in Africa. This means that the piracy centric focus in SADC maritime security needs to be substantiated by a maritime security strategy that is holistically aligned with the needs of the region like economic development, equality and social inclusion.

The different member states of SADC have different maritime priorities. For example, piracy forms more of a risk to Tanzania and Mozambique than it would to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia and so, the strategy needs to be inclusive of other priorities in the region and therefore requires a more integrated concept of security. This feeds into another challenge on how to ensure the participation of landlocked states in maritime strategies as they also require the ocean for trade. The Benguela Current Convention adopted in 2014 by South Africa, Angola and Namibia is a step in the right direction. The five year convention promotes cooperation among the three countries on protection and sustainable use of the Benguela Current marine ecosystem. A closer inspection of the human and blue economic issues relating to the sea will contribute to a more realistic maritime security model and this approach will discourage a state centric top-down approach to security, but would also bring in the human element. This should include non-traditional security threats such as environmental threats, issues surrounding climate change and the effect of land based marine pollution. Another important threat is posed by territorial and economic displacement of local fishing communities by larger companies which could exacerbate illicit illegal fishing and so, it would be useful to encourage multi stakeholder engagement in the policy discussions relating to maritime security.

A good example of this more inclusive approach is visible in the content of the Abuja Declaration which was developed from the convergence of members of civil society, military, academia and government to discuss African approaches to maritime security in West and Central Africa. The relevance of this conference is seen in its facilitation of regional cooperation between ECOWAS and ECCAS. It also provided a valuable expansion of the debate on maritime challenges in the region and complemented the already existing ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS). The EIMS provides a useful approach that SADC could learn from mainly due to its holistic approach to maritime security and governance. The EIMS not only prioritises traditional security threats but also focuses on promoting good governance of the sea through strengthening regulations and legislation as well as marine resource management. Improving international cooperation is also highlighted as an important strategy to improve capacity building and naval resources. The EIMS focus on the formal establishment of a marine domain could also be useful for SADC in light of maritime domain disputes as seen with South Africa and Namibia. This would work to promote cohesion among SADC member states and strengthen the collective implementation of SADC’s maritime strategy.

Challenges to aspects of SADC’s maritime security model are not exempt from the same weaknesses in other areas of SADC’s security framework which are characterised by lack of political will from member states, power dynamics between member states, limited coordination, issues of national sovereignty and inability to implement strategies. Strategic regional engagement coupled with an understanding of the evolving nature of maritime security will see a more effective way to deal with emerging threats and engage with the maritime landscape as a space of economic and developmental possibility.

Ms Andrea Royeppen is a Researcher at Institute for Global Dialogue associated with Unisa. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the IGD, Unisa


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Copyright © 2018, Institute for Global Dialoguemindstormsolutions tiny