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Ghana - Foreign Relations

A nation's foreign policy has been variously defined in terms of a sovereign state's interaction with other states. While some analysts prefer, perhaps, a rather simplistic interpretation of foreign policy as the external manifestation of the domestic factors and objectives of the nation, others see foreign policy, indeed, as an extension of domestic policy. Irrespective of one's perception of foreign policy, the common denominator is, the evolution of a set of objectives employed by a nation in advancing its own interest including its survival and prosperity within a common global security system and development. National interests inevitably provide that bedrock of the foreign policy of any given state.

Ghana's foreign policy from independence in 1957 to the present, and spanning ten different administrations, has remained largely unchanged in its basic tenets. The foundation of this policy, which derived from the nation's historical, geographical and economic perspective, was laid during the First Republic.

The term neocolonialism, purportedly coined by Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, describes the socioeconomic and political control exercised over a decolonised nation economically, linguistically, and culturally, by a neocolonialist country to open up the national economy to its corporations. But despite identifying neocolonialism as a threat and warning newly independent African countries about it, Nkrumah ended up falling prey to it.

By 1962 Nkrumah's overpowering desire to export his brand of nationalism has unquestionably made Ghana one of the foremost practitioners of subversion in Africa. Ghana's influence, or interference, was felt in all sections of the continent. Concentrating at first on the dependent areas, Ghana became increasingly interested in the independent African states, particularly Togo and the Congo.

The proposed African High Command, which was to be the military arm of the Casablanca Powers, with headquarters in Accra. This may well start an all-out arms race and provide an opportunity for increased Soviet influence through materiel, technicians, etc. The Command might decide to intervene militarily in territories still under Portuguese and Spanish rule.

Under Nkrumah, Ghana commanded headlines as pacesetter of independence in West Africa, and as one of the leaders of the radical nations of the Third World. But in the process Nkrumah, like Sukarno and Ben Bella, made a shambles of his nation’s political and economic foundations before he was called to account. He squandered Ghana’s $500 million foreign exchange reserves (derived largely from cocoa sales at high world prices in the early and mid-1950’s), and ran up new foreign debts of some $700 million for prestige projects, a variety of unsound state enterprises, and political and diplomatic activities designed to further his own continental ambitions.

For reasons of economy, the very large overseas representation was reduced, but it was still very large by the standards of other African countries. The most important post was that in London, reflecting both the strong trade and cultural ties to Britain and the number of Ghanaians resident as students or in other capacities in that country. The overseas posts in 1970 included thirty-four embassies in otherAfrican countries, nine posts in Western Europe, three in Eastern Europe (including Yugoslavia), four in the Far East (including Australia), five in the Americas, and three in the Middle East [including both Israel adn Egypt].

In 1970 the government of Prime Minister Busia placed major emphasis on its adherence to the doctrine of political neutrality, which it saw as preserving its right to make its own judgments and to come to its own decisions without undue influence from East or West. The government stressed that in all cases paramount considerations would be given to Ghana's own interest, in marked contrast to Nkrumah's stated policy of putting pan-African consideration first. Friendly relations were to be sought with all countries, but the emphasis was to be placed on relations with those countries geographically closest to Ghana. In principle, first priority was to be given to the development of the closest possible economic, political, and cultural relations with the states with which the country shared common frontiers. Next in importance were to be links to more distant neighbors within West Africa. The government was dedicated to participating fully in efforts to forgea West African economic community.

Over the years, there have been critical reappraisals of foreign policy, particularly in 1982 and in 2001 with a view to making Ghana's foreign policy more positive, more relevant to changes on the international climate and more proactive.

Ghana's foreign policy involved the call for a United Africa which would culminate in political, social and economic integration of African countries. It can be said with pride that the launching of the African Union in 2001 only marked a return to the Pan-Africanist project of Ghana's visionary leader and first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. To demonstrate her support for these ideals of unity, Ghana's Republican Constitution was amended under President Nkrumah, to prepare the grounds for surrendering part of the country's sovereignty, for a union between Ghana, Guinea and Mali. The Government's objective was based on the recognition that Africa, divided into a collection of small states, would not have the economies of scale required for the advancement of its peoples.

Irrespective of her strong stand against the colonial powers, Ghana adopted a pragmatic outlook in seeking economic cooperation with a number of countries, both in the East and West. Fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation with the industrialised countries was pursued to procure the much needed financial and technical assistance for the young nation's economic programmes. In this regard, the policy of Non-Alignment to which Ghana adhered served a useful purpose. This policy meant the Ghana was neither affiliated to the East or West, the two major world blocs and could, though sometimes with difficulty, solicit support from either bloc. Nkrumah was, however, quick to distinguish between neutrality and what he perceived as negative neutrality. Positive neutrality unlike the other did not imply an apathetic attitude but a necessity to formulate opinions on issues of global concern on their own merit.

Ghana has lately been playing an increasingly significant global leadership role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, active member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and 2007 Chair of the AU. Ghana has preferred multilateral solutions to global problems and has a history of pan-African leadership.

Founding father Kwame Nkrumah's pan-African vision is still prominent in the Ghanaian mindset and is reflected in the four pillars of Ghana's foreign policy: a commitment to multilateralism, pan-Africanism, non-alignment, and "good neighborliness."

Ghana is active in the United Nations and many of its specialized agencies, as well as the World Trade Organization, the Nonaligned Movement, the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Generally, Ghana follows the consensus of the Nonaligned Movement and the AU on economic and political issues that do not directly affect its own interests. Ghana has played an increasingly active role in sub-regional affairs including prominent roles in ECOWAS and the African Union.

Ghana is a critically important peacekeeping partner; it is the largest African peacekeeping contributor nation to multinational peacekeeping operations (PKO) and the sixth-largest among all peacekeeping contributing nations. Currently Ghana has 2,995 peacekeepers deployed to UN peacekeeping operations. It has large contingents deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), the Darfur region of Sudan, Lebanon, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire, with smaller contingents deployed in Western Sahara, Kosovo, and Southern Sudan. Ghana contributes military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping operations outside of Africa, including nearly 900 troops to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon. The United States provides military support to Ghana through a variety of programs, including the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program and the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. President Mills was a key ally on all major security initiatives in the region including counterterrorism.

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Page last modified: 11-04-2017 18:44:25 ZULU