The Commonwealth and South Africa: Sanctions & CO Unlimited?

This report describes disagreements among Commonwealth Committee of Foreign Ministers on Southern Africa (CCFMSA) member states concerning the possible tightening of sanctions based on the Hanlon Report, which recommends steps to secure an eventual total trade embargo. The member states are divided into three camps: the Thatcher principle, which opposes using sanctions as a punitive measure, the ‘centrist’ position adopted by Australia and Canada, which supports limited sanctions but is not prepared to back comprehensive sanctions, and the position of states who believe in the use of mandatory sanctions. The Hanlon report suggests a gradualist approach by imposing sanctions over time, allowing Commonwealth countries to seek alternatives to South Africa as a trading partner. However, the Commonwealth has failed to achieve unity, and it seems unlikely that any of the Commonwealth members will change their position. Phase one of Hanlon’s proposals has been endorsed, mostly based on financial sanctions. The CCFMSA are convinced that steps like the oil embargo and effort to isolate South Africa have contributed to the Namibia peace plan and attempts to settle regional strife.