Most, if not all defence forces across the world make use of defence diplomacy and some, including South Africa utilise defence diplomacy for conflict prevention. However, the theoretical underpinnings concerning the defence diplomacy - conflict prevention nexus are inadequate as is the concept of non-coercive defence diplomacy, a policy term first mooted by the South African Department of Defence in 2011. In addition, the South African Department of Defence recently released the South African Defence Review 2015 which maps out the strategic direction for the next two to three decades. The 2015 Defence Review addresses, amongst others, policy guidance for defence diplomacy and conflict prevention.
The aim of the study was to conduct a strategic analysis of South Africa’s use of defence diplomacy for purposes of conflict prevention, as framed by the 2015 Defence Review. This was achieved by developing a framework for the defence diplomacy - conflict prevention nexus; applying it to the South African case study in a policy and operational context; and thereupon formulating recommendations for the 2015 Defence Review. The research problem is that the use of defence diplomacy by South Africa as an approach to conflict management is both under-theorised and under-emphasised. This raises two questions. Firstly, what is the link and relationship between defence diplomacy and the prevention of conflict? Secondly, how is or can defence diplomacy, as a supplementary form of preventive diplomacy, be strategically aligned with the 2015 Defence Review to extend its conflict prevention use?
In response to the first question it was found that defence diplomacy, if used non-coercively in a multilateral context with CSBMs, regulates the conflict situation (in terms of goal incompatibility), conflict attitudes and perceptions and conflict behaviour, and therefore prevents conflict escalation by keeping it within the bounds of pre-manifest conflict. In response to the second question it was found that South Africa’s non-coercive defence diplomacy, at both a policy and operational level, was partially aligned with the framework
The utility of non-coercive defence diplomacy for preventing an escalation in conflict was verified by exploring the policy and operational context of South Africa’s defence diplomacy. By applying the framework for analysis on the defence diplomacy - conflict prevention nexus to the South African case study, it was established that the DOD policy context for defence diplomacy from 1994 to 2015 was pursued in a stable foreign policy setting which had a predilection for the peaceful resolution of conflict and was framed by an identifiable DOD policy context. The DOD policy context was, however, initially vague as it failed to advocate defence diplomacy, referring instead to CSBMs. This resulted in a policy void which extended into the strategic realm, specifically the 2002 Military Strategy, which had a myopic focus on military foreign relations. This shortcoming has never been rectified. However, the Business Plans from 2003 to 2013 show an incremental convergence with the defence diplomacy - conflict prevention nexus but it is emphasised that there is an ongoing absence of defence policy synchronisation with the stages of pre-manifest conflict. Moreover, the purposive use of non-coercive defence diplomacy did not feature as such in the 2015 Defence Review. Continuing with the South African case study and considering the operational context of DOD defence diplomacy from 2011 to 2015, the defence diplomacy - conflict prevention nexus revealed that there is evidence to inductively ground a theory that non-coercive defence diplomacy prevents an escalation in pre-manifest conflict.
In conclusion, the policy context confirmed the link between defence diplomacy, more specifically non-coercive defence diplomacy with CSBMs, and conflict regulation; whereas the operational context provided evidence that non-coercive defence diplomacy subscribes to common values and principles, creates conditions, modifies attitudes and perceptions, and regulates behaviour that collectively prevent the escalation of pre-manifest conflict. These findings and limitations provided justification for recommendations concerning the 2015 Defence Review as a policy tool to direct and implement defence diplomacy for conflict prevention.
Mini Dissertation (MSS)--University of Pretoria, 2017.