The purpose of my essay is to flesh out why the issue of corruption should be the preeminent foreign policy issue for the South African government – in line with the imperatives of the Constitution and furthered by the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court and other courts, as well as giving effect to its own commitment of human rights in its most recent Foreign Policy White Paper (mentioned earlier). Moreover, South Africa has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, adopted in 2003 and coming into force in 2005.
We have argued that the Constitution primarily allocates foreign policy responsibility to the national executive. The President and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and its foreign missions are the key actors in the executive responsible for making and overseeing foreign policy. The Constitution prescribes both substantive and procedural rules to guide the executive in its foreign policy choices
In South Africa’s constitutional scheme, all public power, including foreign policy powers, is subject to judicial review for legality, rationality and compliance with the Bill of Rights. However, the scope of the judicial review – and in particular the standard of rationality – is informed by a certain deference to the executive, in order to respect the democratic principle and its institutional competence. The level of deference will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. This means that the level of scrutiny to be afforded the other branches of government’s respective foreign relations powers and responsibilities cannot be predicted with any degree of confidence. Rather, the particular circumstances and context of the case will be the primary concern of the courts.
The courts, utilising their Constitution given powers, have in certain cases declared foreign policy unconstitutional for being inconsistent with the Constitution. The courts have also interpreted foreign policy in order to bring it in line with the Constitution. In so doing, it can be argued that courts have invariably played a role in the making and implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy.
March 22, 2021