International Organizations

International Organizations

The year 1994 marked a watershed in South Africa's international relations, as it was welcomed into regional and international organizations, such as the UN, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Nonaligned Movement, and many others. The UN already had played an important role in South Africa's transition to democracy beginning in August 1992, when United Nations Security Council Resolution 772 authorized the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA) to help quell political violence. UNOMSA deployed thirty members in November of that year, and increased the number to 1,800 to oversee the April 1994 elections.

On May 25, 1994, the United Nations Security Council lifted the last of its punitive measures, the arms embargo of November 1977, known as Security Council Resolution 418 (strengthened in December 1984 as Security Council Resolution 558). Pretoria then refused to pay roughly US$100 million in dues and annual payments for the years its UN participation had been suspended. In 1995 the UN waived most of this amount, stating the Pretoria was not obliged to make back-payments on behalf of the apartheid regime.

President Mandela addressed the OAU summit in Tunis in June 1994, when South Africa assumed its seat in that organization for the first time. He emphasized his support for other African leaders and South Africa's solidarity with African interests. Also in June 1994, South Africa rejoined the British Commonwealth of Nations, which included fifty-one former British colonies. This action followed a thirty-three-year absence that had begun when South Africa declared itself a republic in 1961.

South Africa became the eleventh member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on August 29, 1994, when Deputy President Thabo Mbeki attended a SADC meeting at the organization's headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. SADC's predecessor, the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), had been established in 1979 to attempt to reduce regional economic dependence on South Africa. In 1992 SADCC's ten member states agreed to reorganize as SADC in order to strengthen regional ties and to work toward the formation of a regional common market.

On September 21, 1994, South Africa became the twenty-fourth member of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone and attended that organization's meeting in Brasilia. South Africa also signed a declaration affirming the South Atlantic as a nuclear-weapons-free zone as well as agreements on trade and environmental protection in the region.

South African leaders in early 1996 were working to capitalize on the universal goodwill that had greeted their country's establishment of multiracial democracy in 1994 and its emergence from international pariah status. It was evident, at the same time, that some of the ANC's former staunch defenders in Africa were expecting concessions and assistance from the new government in Pretoria, in recognition of the decades of support South Africa's new leaders had received during their struggle to end apartheid.

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