Daniel Flemes

Conceptualising Regional Power in International Relations: Lessons from the South African Case

GIGA Working Paper, No. 53, June 2007

Abstract
Regional powers can be distinguished by four pivotal criteria: claim to leadership, power resources, employment of foreign policy instruments, and acceptance of leadership. Ap-plying these indicators to the South African case, the analysis demonstrates the crucial significance of institutional foreign policy instruments. But although the South African government is ready to pay the costs of co-operative hegemony (such as capacity building for regional institutions and peacekeeping), the regional acceptance of South Africa’s leadership is constrained by its historical legacy. Additionally, Pretoria’s foreign policy is based on ideational resources such as its reputation as an advocate of democracy and human rights and the legitimacy derived from its paradigmatic behaviour as a ‘good global citizen’. However, the Mbeki presidency is more successful in converting these resources into discursive instruments of interest-assertion in global, rather than in regional bargains. In effect the regional power’s reformist South-oriented multilateralism is challenging some of the guiding principles of the current international system.

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Dr. Daniel Flemes

Senior Research Fellow
Editor GIGA Focus Latin America

Dr. Daniel Flemes is Editor of the GIGA Focus Latin America series and Schumpeter Fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation at the GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies. His research focus is on Brazilian politics and society.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Daniel Flemes

Lateinamerikas Entwicklungsbremsen: Instabilität, Gewalt, korrupte Eliten

IP Internationale Politik, Juli/ August 2019, 2019, 64-69

Guilherme Casarões / Daniel Flemes

Brazil First, Climate Last: Bolsonaro's Foreign Policy

GIGA Focus Latin America, 05/2019

Daniel Flemes

Brazil’s Elections: Nationalist Populism on the Rise

GIGA Focus Latin America, 05/2018

Daniel Flemes / Rafael Castro

Colombian Foreign Policy: Contestation by Institution Building

in: Hannes Ebert / Daniel Flemes (eds.), Regional Powers and Contested Leadership, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 85-109

Hannes Ebert / Daniel Flemes

Rethinking Regional Leadership in the Global Disorder

Rising Powers Quarterly, 3, 2018, 1, 7-23