South Africa and BRICS in a Multipolar World: Towards a Diffusion of Power and Ideas?

  • Philani Mthembu


The following article outlines the various changes taking place at the global level, involving the role of both state and non-state actors. It argues that multipolarity will lead not only to a diffusion of material power, but also to a diffusion of ideas as Southern powers are increasingly called upon to contribute as norm entrepreneurs and problem solvers in the international development landscape. In order to position themselves to contribute not only in the realm of material power, but also in the realm of ideas, Southern powers will be tested to reconfigure themselves internally towards more inclusive decision making at home, which extends beyond state actors. In South Africa, the full operationalisation of structures such as the South African Council on International Relations (SACOIR) and the Association of Former Ambassadors could allow the country to contribute to inclusive foreign policy making at home, and towards inclusive decision making in various global governance institutions. It is argued that the operationalisation of these, or similar types of institutions has the potential to boost institutional memory within the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and to promote South Africa’s role as a norm entrepreneur and source of ideas for the various challenges confronting the global political and economic landscape. Institutions that reflect the ethos of SACOIR and the Association of Former Ambassadors are thus more likely to ensure greater coordination between the various diplomatic tracks and foster more buy in for the country’s engagements at the global level.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-641X
print ISSN: 0256-2804