The Eagle and the Springbok: Strengthening the Nigeria/South Africa Relationship

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, hosted a policy advisory group meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, from 9 to 10 June 2012, on “The Eagle and the Springbok: Strengthening the Nigeria / South Africa Relationship”. Nigeria and South Africa have led economic integration and development, as well as peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts, in their respective subregions, and other parts of Africa. Their partnership represents the continent’s most strategic bilateral relationship. Yet, tensions have emerged between the two countries, particularly between 2005 and 2012, as they both sought a permanent seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council (South Africa publicly announced its intention to seek this seat in 2010). The relationship also became strained after xenophobic attacks against Africans, including Nigerians, in South Africa in 2008; following increasingly divergent foreign policy positions in 2011; and in 2012, when Nigeria and South Africa turned away each other’s citizens in a dispute over entry requirements. Partly in an attempt to resolve mounting tensions, the Nigeria-South Africa BiNational Commission (BNC) met in full session in Cape Town in May 2012. CCR’s policy advisory group seminar in Lagos in June 2012 sought to build on the outcomes of the BNC meeting and help to “reset” the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa by addressing key themes, and crafting concrete recommendations on the history and diplomacy of bilateral relations; the multilateral roles adopted by the two countries; their economic and trade links; civil society perspectives; and the future of the relationship.