The Foreign Policy of Senegal Since 2000

"After President Abdoulaye Wade became president of Senegal in 2000 some apparent changes in Senegalese foreign policy could be discerned. This paper considers the extent to which that policy changed under his administration. It examines significant trends in the foreign policy of Senegal; the role played in them by national institutions; and the domestic and international political backdrop. A major issue is the extent to which foreign policy formulation and implementation was taken out of the control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of ‘classical’ diplomacy in favour of increased involvement by specialist elements from government and non-state organisations. This has occurred largely in response to an increased emphasis on economic issues that has also brought some realignment in Senegal’s international relationships, away from traditional partners towards the emerging economic powers. There has also been a revival of Pan-Africanist thinking with concomitant stress on African continental, regional and sub-regional issues. The paper examines the effects of increased personalisation of the foreign affairs function, in particular of the much greater levels of intervention by the executive at the expense of the legislature and judiciary. Such interventions may not be out of line with constitutional and other statutory provisions but may nevertheless reflect both a lack of sustained interest in foreign policy by legislators and a more fundamental shift in the parameters of control of foreign policy, in the quest for greater effectiveness in international dealings. The paper concludes, however, that in common with that of many other states, Senegal’s foreign policy shows a degree of institutional continuity that tends to transcend temporary domestic and foreign political dynamics and interests. Finally, the election of a new president in 2012 has to some degree marked a return to a more established and ‘classical’ foreign policy stance."