South Africa and its neighbours: Co-operation or conflict?

Southern Africa has come under international attention as an unsettled region of the world, attracting the involvement of both superpowers which, far from contributing to a resolution of the regional disputes, has aggravated them. Nevertheless, their power gives them the potential to stabilise the region, resolve problems, and promote economic development. Some form of agreement between the superpowers is needed to co-operate rather than complete, and there are tentative signs of them moving in that direction. International attention has mainly focused on South Africa's domestic crisis, but there is also increasing concern about South African policy towards its neighbours and conflicts within neighbouring countries. Regional development will be unstable until there is a political settlement and peace within South Africa itself. Current regional characteristics are: conflict and instability, dominance and dependence, the paradox of functional links continuing despite conflicting relationships, economic decline, and East/West rivalry. Conditions for improved co-operation are: removing the apartheid barrier, promoting real interdependence, changing South Africa’s aggressive image, taking account of western interests, a more balanced view of Soviet rule, and cooling the rhetoric on all sides to foster a climate of trust and confidence.