I have attended many academic and political fora where Botswana’s foreign policy issues have been a topic of discussion. While some people are advocating for Botswana to adopt a codified foreign policy, some are opposed to that citing that the anarchic nature of the international system (where anything can happen at any time) Botswana does not require a rigid codified foreign policy but should be flexible and take a position based on what is happening on the ground.
My studying of International Relations has taught me that when countries adopt foreign policies towards other states, they are mostly driven by issues of national interests and their own survival or security. In International Relations we call this Realism. Furthermore other scholars within this field posit that some countries pursue foreign policy with many considerations on ethics, values and norms as expected by the international community. In this liberal or ethical foreign policy environment states or leaders of states always take into consideration issues of democracy (transparency and accountability) human rights and most importantly respect for international law.
Now when it comes to Botswana’s relations with other actor actors in the international system, it is at times very difficult to explain on which model does she subscribe to because in many cases the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation would state that they took a stance on a certain issue considering her national interests, but in many instances they usually cite ethical reasons for taking decisions with regards to relations with other states.
There are various examples where Botswana stated that it holds such positions based on ethical reasons. When many African countries rebelled against the International Criminal Court (ICC) citing its rampant biasness against African rulers, Botswana stuck with the ICC reasoning that impunity and gross violation of human rights in the continent must be rooted out through that court. Furthermore, Botswana has come out strongly against the Gaddafi and Assad regimes at the height of the Arab Spring as she viewed the regimes as gross violators of human rights and even gave a thumps up for Western countries to topple these regimes.
In 2014, the Khama administration cut off all diplomatic ties with the Democratic Republic of North Korea which was established in the mid 70s. North Korea’s continued tests of ballistic missiles is viewed by Botswana as a threat to global peace, an act viewed by Botswana as “unethical” despite the fact that ample evidence is there showing that the US has an intention of effecting regime change there. In fact if one looks deeper into the ethical considerations that Botswana takes on its policy stances, it is always singing from the same political hymn book with Western imperialist regime change fanatics such as the US and Britain including a host of allies like Israel. To put it more simply, enemies of the West are treated by Botswana as enemies to international peace and security.
Issues of ethics such as respect for international law and respect for human rights when violated
They have been pushed to the peripheral margins of public life the same way Blacks were marginalised in the South African apartheid system. Israeli authorities have expanded illegal settlements activities in the West Bank, constructed apartheid style walls that separate Palestinians from Jewish settlers. Palestinians face daily harassment from Israeli forces. In sheer brutality, Palestinians are subjected to administrative detentions (arrest without a charge for many months at Israel’s pleasure). This includes children whose age range from ten to thirteen years. In Gaza life under Israel blockade has turned Gaza Strip into the world’s biggest open air prison. Killing of Palestinians inside both Gaza and West Bank has become more of a pastime for Israeli forces.
This has been widely condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Organisations. UN Security Council Resolutions have been passed condemning Israeli atrocities only to be vetoed by the US (which Botswana counts as a political sweetheart). Despite these gross abuse and glaring apartheid Botswana has never condemned Israel, but instead has even collaborated with Israel by buying its weapons and surveillance equipment. Mind you, Palestinians are used as human experiments in testing these security equipments (their effectiveness tested through brutal killing of Palestinians).
That is the reason that after every brutal invasion of Gazza, Israel makes huge profits in military equipment. In other words, Botswana helps in the sustenance of Israeli apartheid and occupation of Palestine by trading and having diplomatic relations with Israel. I know proponents of this arrangement will cite realist national interest narratives but for a country that has boasted of respecting human rights and social justice, this foreign policy stance is contrary to its cherished national values. Botswana should be bold and boycott Israeli apartheid system that it is indirectly sponsoring. Israel is a ruthless apartheid state not worthy of any diplomatic relationship with Botswana.