Namibia - Foreign Relations
Namibia follows a largely independent foreign policy, but has close relations with states that aided its independence struggle, including the People's Republic of China, Russia, and Cuba. Namibia is developing trade and strengthening economic and political ties within the Southern African region. As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Namibia is a vocal advocate for greater regional integration. Namibia became the 160th member of the United Nations on April 23, 1990, and the 50th member of the British Commonwealth upon independence.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the responsibility of executing government policy regarding each region and country in a manner that is proportionate to Namibia’s interests and capabilities in any given area of the world. Thus, in most cases, our bilateral relations with individual countries are to be seen within the regional context, focused on those objectives that are prioritised and achievable.
Namibia’s bilateral relations can be placed within the historical context of the struggle for independence. The country attaches high value to the decisions of the United Nations and other international organisations, particularly the fraternity of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) (now the African Union) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as the Non-Aligned Movement. National interests constitute an overriding factor in our bilateral relations, allowing Namibia to exercise its sovereign right when conducting business within the parameters of these relations.
The Namibian government supports and facilitates the increased external economic involvement of Namibia’s private sector and other non-official entities, to tap into the vast opportunities of the SADC region, and into those of the rest of the world. For example the Namibia Investment Centre at the Ministry of Trade and Industry is aggressively engaged in the pursuit of economic relationships around the world. Namibian diplomatic missions also play a significant role in this activity, facilitating initial contacts, meetings and follow-up work.
Namibia has joined the community of nations at a time when multilateral tasks of diplomacy have proliferated considerably. As such, the country’s small team of diplomatic personnel, which is already over-burdened by bilateral challenges, has found itself faced with a variety of bewildering transnational tasks, such as, terrorism, organised crime, drug trafficking, the smuggling of immigrants, environmental abuse, human rights issues, etc. Indeed, our diplomats have to participate in the work of international organisations and conferences, negotiations and conclusions of agreements, protocols, conventions and treaties. This dramatic increase in the tasks of multilateral diplomacy since the 20th century, represents a corresponding increase in interdependence among nations. At the same time, international political dialogue has intensified, often involving several heads of state and government in direct encounters at summit levels, regionally and internationally.
Due to its unifying role in the world, the UN and its agencies occupy the central place among international organizations. The Bretton Woods institutions, i.e., the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have also gained in importance, as has the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Since independence, Namibia’s policy regarding multilateral institutions has focused on effective articulation of the country’s specific needs in areas like health, agriculture, metrology, maritime affairs, education, science and technology, the environment and industrialisation.
As a small developing country, Namibia is an active participant in the G-77 group and in all the programmes aimed at stronger South-South co-operation and North-South dialogue as well. Our country sees itself as a bridge-builder, and works for stronger mutual understanding and fruitful co-operation among all nations.
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