While the wave of relief that washed over the country after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Russia’s Vladimir Putin will no longer attend the Brics summit in person was palpable, the euphoria around Ramaphosa’s statement may be premature.

The Brenthurst Foundation’s Dr Greg Mills and Ray Hartley say the danger is that with the Brics ‘hullabaloo’ over, SA will find a new way to take the country to the brink with a new Putin crisis.

‘Ramaphosa has already publicly (mis)stated that SA wishes to withdraw from the ICC, a move which would give Putin – and other wanted war criminals – carte blanche to visit the country. His withdrawal announcement was withdrawn as it had been made prematurely, a case of courtus interruptus.’

Writing on the Daily Maverick site, the authors add failing that, there has been much speculation that the ANC will seek to pass domestic law that will exempt the government from having to arrest those wanted by the ICC, ‘something which has been done by a range of countries seeking to hedge their bets with tyrants’.

The authors point out the problem with both of these possible paths is they would open the door for Putin to visit SA without the interference of ‘pesky’ human rights issues in the future.

‘More than that, there is a matter of principle at play: the point is not that we should be doing what others do. Rather, we should do the right thing and take a stand on global human rights that is in keeping with our constitutional imperative.’

Shortly before becoming President, Nelson Mandela penned an article for the November/December edition of the journal Foreign Affairs titled SA’s Future Foreign Policy.

The authors argue it remains the clearest articulation of a foreign policy framework consistent with SA’s choice to become a constitutional democracy that entrenched fundamental human rights. Mandela outlined six ‘pillars’ on which SA’s foreign policy would be based:

* Issues of human rights are central to international relations and an understanding that they extend beyond the political, embracing the economic, social and environmental.

* Just and lasting solutions to the problems of humankind can only come through the promotion of democracy worldwide.

* Considerations of justice and respect for international law should guide the relations between nations.

* Peace is the goal for which all nations should strive, and where this breaks down, internationally agreed and nonviolent mechanisms, including effective arms-control regimes, must be employed.

* Concerns and interests of the continent of Africa should be reflected in our foreign policy choices.

* Economic development depends on growing regional and international economic co-operation in an interdependent world.

The authors note Mandela went on to outline this vision of foreign policy built on the foundation of human rights and democracy, saying ‘because the world is a more dangerous place, the international community dare not relinquish its commitment to human rights.’

They add it was under Mandela’s leadership that SA joined the ICC, precisely to join the community of global nations seized with eradicating tyranny and abuse. 

They conclude: ‘The world has indeed become a more dangerous place. Rather than weasel our way around tyrants, now is the time to reassert human rights as the basis of our foreign policy outlook. The other road is the highway to hell via isolation and economic decay.’

Full opinion piece on the Daily Maverick site