Powers of persuasion: Incentives, sanctions and conditionality in peacemaking
Publication date: 
2008
Accord issue: 
19

Catherine Barnes reviews the economic, financial and cultural sanctions imposed on South Africa between the 1960s to the 1990s aimed at influencing the government to dismantle the apartheid system. She judges that the various punitive measures were only indirectly influential in influencing the government's decision on whether and when to negotiate a transition.

However, they played a useful role in strengthening the position of those in the white community who recognised the need for reform or were simply tired of the effects of international isolation, and were also a source of support for the ANC, which continued to value their influence during the negotiations process. Ultimately, it was the leadership shown by pro-negotiation elements in all the parties that was responsible for South Africa's successful transition.

Despite the array of initiatives designed to pressure or encourage the South African government to abandon apartheid, they were not decisive.

Catherine Barnes