South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National Conference​


International Relations

22 December 1997

Arms exports

This conference noting that:

  • South Africa’s commitment to respect human rights and international peace and security is evident in the Constitution, foreign policy statements and the ratification of international covenants which deal with these matters;
  • The White Paper on Defence expresses this commitment in relation to arms exports by providing, for example, that “South Africa shall not transfer arms to countries which systematically violate or suppress human rights and fundamental reforms”;
  • The cabinet has set up the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, comprising members of government departments and ministers to regulate and limit arms sales;
  • These commitments have given rise to difficulties in some cases.

Believing that:

  • The pursuit of economic benefits from arms sales at the expense of human security, freedom and life in other countries is contrary to the values of our country, party and people;
  • A less discriminatory approach to arms sales will undermine South Africa’s foreign and national interests in the long run;
  • Any assessment of human rights and international peace and security concerns necessary entail the exercise of subjective political judgment.

Resolves to call on government to:

  • Continue its strong commitment and adherance to Policy on international and national arms control;
  • Strengthen the policy of transparency and oversight in a way consistent with recognition of the need for commercial confidentiality that will allow for informed parliamentary and public debate on arms exports;
  • As a matter of urgency, amend apartheid era arms control legislation.

Further Resolves:

  • That the ANC and government should deal severely with mercenaries activities involved in the sale of military related services which operate against or intended neglecting and leading to violation of human rights in foreign countries.


  1. The gravity of the situation in the resolution of the Palestinian question and the almost effective collapse of the peace process between the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority;
  2. That 131 members of the UN General Assembly regard the intransigence of the Netanyahu government as being primarily responsible for this state of affairs.


  1. That failure to implement to the letter the Hebron and Oslo Agreements constitutes a very serious threat to peace, stability and security in the whole of the Middle East.

This National Conference therefore resolves:

  1. That the Israeli government must create the conditions for the full implementation of the Hebron and Oslo Accords;
  2. That the Israeli government must stop the expropriation of ancestral Palestinian lands;
  3. That the Israeli government stops the new settlements as this presents a major stumbling bloc towards peaceful negotiations;
  4. That the Israeli government should end the blockade of the Palestinian territories;
  5. That Israel should withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territory;
  6. That appropriate arrangements are made for the safe passage of all Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank;
  7. That the incoming NEC and the government do all they can to pursue the implementation of the above resolutions;
  8. To instruct the incoming NEC to communicate the contents of this resolution to both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.
Party to party relations

Noting that:

  • The ANC’s fundamental policies of nonracialism, non-sexism and economic prosperity characterise our National Democratic Revolution and inform ANC Foreign Policy;
  • The ANC in its long history of struggle against colonialism, imperialism and apartheid, established international links with parties, governments and solidarity organisations across the globe;
  • These international links became an integral part of our struggle against apartheid;

Further noting that:

  • In the post-1994 period, the ANC did not effectively maintain and actively develop these links;
  • The ANC has for many years maintained observer status in the Socialist International, which has in turn extended an invitation to full membership.

Believing that:

  • It is in the interest of the ANC and our country to foster and promote links and dialogue with other political formations at an international level.

Affirming that:

  • Party to party relations must be conducted on a principled basis informed by our clearly defined principles and policies.

Hereby resolves:

  • That the ANC consolidates existing links with fraternal parties and like-minded political formations in Southern Africa, Africa and globally;
  • To recommend that dialogue be maintained and/or established with other political parties in pursuit of our country’s interest in line with our political objectives both domestically and internationally;
  • To recommend that the incoming NEC investigate the possibility of affiliating to international political organisations such as Socialist International and to implement the decision as a matter of urgency.
Western Sahara

Noting that:

  • The process of decolonisation of Western Sahara has not yet been completed and that the Saharawi people are engaged in a struggle for national self determination;
  • Welcome progress has been made in the resolution of the conflict over Western Sahara, including in the final agreement reached between the parties to implement the joint OAU/UN settlement plan;
  • The agreement makes possible the holding of a free and fair referendum under the exclusive authority of the UN in co-operation with the OAU.

Congratulates the leaders of both parties for their efforts to find a just and lasting resolution which will guarantee the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self determination.

Instructs the incoming NEC to communicate the content of this resolution to both parties concerned.

Department of International Affairs


  • That the closure of the Department of International Affairs has restricted our ability to promote the organisation and engage internationally;
  • This restriction to interact with our counter parts on an international level, has reflected negatively on the ANC;


  • That it is imperative that the ANC maintains an effective international presence as a political organisation;


  • For the NEC to explore the feasibility of the re-establishment of DIA as a matter of urgency;
  • to secure the essential human and financial resources to make the DIA fully operational;
  • That the incoming NEC further explore mechanisms to coordinate international work taking place at provincial and local levels.
International Policy and Priorities

This Conference noting:

  • The rapid pace at which globalisation is taking place in the world today;
  • That while globalisation presents opportunities to advance our revolution it also poses threats particularly to developing countries of which we are a part;
  • That the process of globalisation is uneven leading to a widening gap between the rich and the poor both in the developing and industrialised countries;
  • That the end of the Cold War has not brought to an end poverty, inequality, socio-economic exploitation and gender oppression;
  • That the current international trade routes are threatening the national sovereignity of many nations particularly the developing nations;
  • That the policies of the free market imposed by conditionalities have demonstrated themselves to be hopelessly incapable of redistributing wealth in order to eradicate poverty and disease and to address the basic social needs of the majority of the world’s population today;
  • That the African Continent, particularly subSaharan Africa, is benefitting least from this process of globalisation, instead it has experienced a general decline in living standards and poverty is on the increase.

And further noting:

  • The undemocratic nature of many multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council;
  • that there is a pressing need for multi-lateral finance institutions such as the IMF and World Bank to become more sensitive to the developmental needs, poverty and the debt trap of developing nations;
  • That South Africa has ratified a number of international human rights covenants, including those relating to gender and women.

And Believing that:

  • While globalisation is a reality, it is not a fixed and unchallengeable process in which there are no alternatives;
  • Global solidarity still remains the main weapon to struggle for a just and equitable world order;
  • One of the key platforms to engage and transform the present reality is solidarity and strategic allances amongst, in the first instance, developing countries, and with those in industrialised countries committed to the creation of a just and equitable world order;
  • A global system that perpetuates inequalities among countries and amongst people is, in the long run, not sustainable;
  • There can be no realisation of a just and equitable world order without reconstruction on the African Continent, particularly in subSaharan Africa;
  • A just and equitable world order can only be realised in a world characterised by peace, democracy and human rights, in which the right to national self-determination is fully respected and protected;
  • The vision of an African Renaissance as outlined in the President’s Report to this conference is a central platform for the development of the African continent;
  • Within this vision particular attention should be paid to those sections who have been most disadvantaged, in particular women and the rural poor.

And further believing that:

  • Africans themselves should play a leading role in the resolution of the problems on the African Continent;
  • The African Renaissance should be led by the most progressive forces of African society representing an alliance of the working class, peasants, the middle class and progressive sectors of an emerging black bourgeoisie;
  • Military coups and dictatorships and other undemocratic forms of government have no place in Africa today.

This National Conference therefore resolves:

  • That the incoming NEC be seized with the task of developing alternative economic models and strategies in order to effectively engage and tackle the inequalities in the current globalisation process
  • To reaffirm the ANC and government’s search for strategic alliances in the South and to forge beneficial economic trade relations with countries in the industrialised world;
  • To charge the incoming NEC and government to support a reform of the United Nations Security Council that will:
    • Ensure adequate and effective representation for Africa and other regions of the South;
    • End, or at least substantially reduce, the veto power of the Security Council members and further support the idea that, if so chosen, South Africa should accept a position on the Security Council;
  • To charge the incoming NEC and government to pursue the goal of promoting democratisation and greater accountability of the IMF and World Bank;
  • That the ANC initiates a process of developing a theoretical framework and strategy to give content to our vision of the African Renaissance;
  • That the ANC initiates a process of dialogue and debate both within our own structures and in the broader public arena;
  • To develop and strengthen sectoral contacts in the areas of youth, women and environment and to this end welcomes the hosting of the Pan-Africanist Women’s Organisation (PAWO);
  • To charge the incoming NEC to develop a Programme of Action to implement the various international covenants on human rights, in particular those relating to gender and women.

And finally, Welcomes the 50th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, recommits itself to the principles therein, and to supporting activities to celebrate the occasion