Trade and Globalisation


Twenty years of cooperation in diplomatic training Clingendael and South Africa

13 Dec 2013 - 10:16
Source: Clingendael

On the 13th of November 2013 a book titled “The evolution of a South African Diplomat. A partnership between South Africa, Clingendael and the DRC – towards a better world” was published.

The first copy was presented to Ms. Maud Dlomo, Deputy Director General (DDG), Ms. Thami Ngwevela, Chief Director, Mr. Andre Groenewald, Director on behalf of South African’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Ron Ton, Director of the Clingendael Academy in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Celebrating cooperation

The book was published at the occasion of celebrating 20 years of cooperation in diplomatic training between Clingendael and South Africa, 1993-2013. The book analyses the contribution of both countries in upgrading skills and knowledge of diplomats and building capacity in developing a diplomatic institute.

Mr. Ton in his article refers to the request made to the Netherlands government by Mr. Nelson Mandela in April 1992 to prepare the African National Congress (ANC) for integrating into a new South African diplomatic service after democratic elections (which in the end took place in April 1994). The Netherlands government was very supportive in assisting to the peaceful integration process into a democratic and non-racial South Africa.

Significant changes

In the negotiations for a post-Apartheid South Africa it was decided that the ANC should dismantle their offices abroad and integrate into a new diplomatic service. The Netherlands government supported the Clingendael Institute to design and deliver a course in international relations and diplomatic practice for high level international ANC officials.

Ron Ton describes the necessary change in mindset from an anti-apartheid activist to the world of modern diplomacy, the focus on economics and the required insights of multilateral conference diplomacy. Almost 50 participants joined the projects in 1993 and 1994 of which 70% effectively became a diplomat in the South African Foreign Service. Other acquired interesting jobs in the South African society, for example in the parliament, media or Non-governmental organizations (NGO's).

Successful outcomes

The DDG of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Ms. Dlomo analyses in another chapter the efforts made since 2005 by South Africa to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in creating new structures and capacity by developing a diplomatic academy, providing diplomatic training to the DRC and organizing conference activities. By 2011 hundreds of DRC diplomats were trained and diplomatic programmes were in place at the junior, middle and senior level.

Various alumni being trained at the Clingendael Institute contributed to the book reflecting on the importance of their training in the NL and to what extend contributions were made to their evolving diplomatic careers in the last 20 years.

Reciprocal exchange

The cooperation between Clingendael and South Africa later in the nineties included also capacity building projects to support the development of institutional structures in the training of South African diplomats at the Foreign Service Institute. As from 2009 Clingendael and DIRCO entered in a new cooperation based on a mutual exchange of expertise.