Positioning South Africa in 21st Century Global Nuclear Security Debates

South Africa’s third term on the UN Security Council (UNSC), which began in January 2019, takes place within a more constrained domestic milieu than its previous terms. Concerns about local economic growth prospects, the state’s dwindling capacity to meet its developmental targets and the country’s waning soft power tend to dominate public discourse in the country, underscoring a need to re-prioritise traditional foreign policy issues. Yet, despite these constraints, South Africa has pursued a third term at the UNSC – signalling the government’s continuing intention to play an active role in global peace and security issues. This policy insight argues that South Africa’s domestic economic constraints provide it with an opportunity to be more innovative in how it engages diplomatically in global nuclear security debates. A greater reliance on alliances and partnerships is an important way to maintain its relevance in global affairs.