Transition in South Africa: The global context and the international role

This paper looks first at the impact which the dramatic changes in the international environment have had on the Southern African region and particularly on the South African political scene in the past few years. It attempts to identify some of the global changes and trends which have opened the way for a greater potential influence by the international community, particularly by external actors, in the current transition to democracy. It refers to the marked change in government attitudes towards international involvement, and argues that the positive influence of external actors is a necessary component of the transition process, if this process is to achieve its goal. It then examines briefly some specific ways in which external actors, notably the UN, are already involved and may be able in future to promote the transition to a non-racial and democratic dispensation.