Angola: 45 years of diplomacy

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Luanda – Angola’s joining of the concert of the nations and its contribution to the elimination of tension and armed conflict hotbeds, the attraction of foreign investment and the defence of multilateralism in the international relations, are some of the facts that marked the country’s politico-diplomatic activity in its 45 years as an independent nation.

 

By Rui Vasco, Angop journalist

Angola’s accumulated experience, leading to its affirmation and recognition in the world, has entailed the deepening of bilateral and multilateral relations with all countries, strengthening of scientific and technical cooperation for development, based on fair and mutually advantageous conditions, as well as favouring dialogue and diplomacy over positions of force.

Over the 45 years as an independent nation, Angola exercised a very active and respected diplomacy. It achieved, by its own merit, a prominent position with recognised results, having been twice a non-permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council, and holding two terms as Executive Secretary of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP).

In the performance of its diplomatic agenda, Angola always cooperated with the international community in the fight against terrorism and crime networks, money laundering, human and drugs trafficking and major endemic diseases.

Other strong points on Angola’s diplomatic agenda include the adoption of concrete measures to face global warming and climate change, handling of sensitive dossiers linked to international non-proliferation nuclear weapons treaties and the United Nations Organisation’s reform.

The UN reforms, defended by Angola, seeks to make the organisation more balanced and more just regarding the representation of all continents as permanent members of its Security Council, in order to better reflect the world’s actual geo-political and economic reality.

In fact, Angola defends the African position that demands two permanent seats for the continent in the Security Council.

One of the permanent concerns on Angola’s agenda refers to the prevalence of conflicts. In this domain, Angola defends their peaceful and solution through dialogue, and urges for a fairer, more peaceful and safer world. From its experience, resulted the “Angola’s Conflict Resolution Doctrine”.

In this perspective, Angola has been seeking to focus its action on the promotion of an international agenda of prevention and resolution of conflicts in the world, taking advantage of its national and international leadership experience, particularly within a context in which it chaired the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

Also in the domain of pacification and national reconciliation, integration and social inclusion, including the peace efforts and initiatives, Angola has been transmitting its experience, within the framework of its efforts and initiatives for peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Central Africa Republic and South Sudan.

In his swearing-in speech, on 26 September 2017, President João Lourenço said Angola remains faithful to maintaining the relations of friendship and cooperation with all countries and peoples of the world, on the basis of the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs and reciprocal advantages, toward the safeguard of peace, justice and progress of humanity.

World, continental and regional integration

Since the proclamation of its national independence, on 11 November 1975, the Angolan diplomacy has all along been characterised by a remarkable performance, as it joined the major world, continental and regional political, economic and financial organisations and of other natures.

Therefore, Angola enjoys diplomatic relations with more than 150 countries around the world, and is a full right member of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) and its several specialised systems, the African Union and regional organisations.

Angolan diplomacy favours the most the relations with the neighbouring countries, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), Zambia and Namibia and those from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which are relevant for the defence, security and development of southern Africa, the African Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the African Union, and defends a policy of approximation to the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS), due, among other reasons, to existing historical relations with one of its members, Guinea-Bissau.

Concerning the politico-diplomatic and economic concert and regional integration, Angola is part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), of the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS), of the Portuguese Speaking Community (CPLP), of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL), of the East and West Africa Common  Market (COMESA), of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone ( ZOPACAS), of the African Portuguese-speaking Countries (PALOP) and of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) .

It is worth noting that the Angolan ambassadors Gilberto Veríssimo and Georges Chikoti are the chairman of ECCAS and the Secretary General of the ACP group, respectively.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the current Angolan Foreign minister, ambassador Tete António, was an advisor to the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, and African Union Permanent Observer to the United Nations.

 

Currently, 19 agencies of the UN System are represented in the country, some of which are the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), Development Programme (UNDP) e World Food Programme (WFP), High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) and the Organisations for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), Food and Agriculture (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Angola is also a member of the African Union Human Rights and Peoples and of the United Nations Human Rights, Organisation of the Portuguese Exporting Countries (OPEC), Association of African Petroleum Producing Countries (APPA), Word Bank (BM) and African Development Bank (AfDB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Upon ratifying relevant instruments, Angola began to regularly participate in the activities of the African Union Parliament, SADC, and also ratified the Protocols on Africa Free Trade and of the Southern Africa Development Community.

With a view to contributing to the settlement of matters of global interest, Angola also ratified and adhered to various juridical instruments relating to climate change, namely the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Kigali Amendment and the Montreal Protocol (ozone layer protection).

It has also ratified and/or adhered to, among others, the Convention on Human Rights, on Reduction of Stateless Persons, on the Stateless Person Status, on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, against Torture and other forms of Cruel, Unhuman or Degrading Treatment, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for the abolition of death penalty.

Others are the Protocol on Humanitarian Law (disarmament), Protocol II additional to the Geneva Conventions, on the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts, and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, while, in the field of culture, the country adhered to the Protocol on Intangible Cultural Heritage.

One of the successes of Angola’s cultural diplomacy was the elevation of the historic Mbanza Kongo Centre as a Humanity Cultural Heritage, by UNESCO, in July 2017, during the 41st meeting of its World Heritage Commission, held in Poland.

Bilateral agreements

In the bilateral framework, over the 45 years, agreements were signed in various areas, among which the ones concerning Visa Suppression and Facilitation with South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cuba, China, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Vietnam, South Korea, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Namibia, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Cabo Verde, Republic of Congo and Mozambique.

To avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion and fraud, agreements have also been signed with some countries, the most recent cases being Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

The history of Angolan diplomacy includes defence agreements, with South Africa, Cabo Verde, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Cuba, United States of America, China, South Korea, East Timor, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Serbia.

In the field of Security and Public Order, there are agreements with Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cuba, China, Vietnam, South Korea, East Timor, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Democratic Republic of Congo.

In terms of Justice, there are agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Legal Assistance with Namibia, Cabo Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Zambia, Brazil, Cuba, United States of America, Germany, Portugal, Russia and China.

Worth noting is that, with France and Russia, agreements have been signed on the Use of the Earth Observation System and the Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes, respectively.

Nowadays, economic diplomacy is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of the Angolan foreign policy, aiming at promoting trade at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, the country's prestige abroad, export of goods and services and attraction of foreign direct investment.

Between 2018 and 2019, President João Lourenço invested on an aggressive and successful economic diplomacy, during which he paid State visits, to promote and boost investments, to the United States of America, People's Republic of China, Russian Federation, Japan, Germany, Portugal, France, Italy, South Africa, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

In effect, the then Popular Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA, the name of the then Angolan Army, which remained until the creation of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), in October 1991, under the Bicesse Agreements), backed by Cuban military forces, defeated the South African army, on 23 March 1988, resulting in the date being today adopted as a holiday in all SADC member countries.

The Cuito Cuanavale Battle destroyed the myth of the alleged superiority and invincibility of the “apartheid” regime, which was forced to negotiate, to free Nelson Mandela and accept the inevitable rise to power of the representatives of the black South African majority.

From a diplomatic point of view, the victory of the coalition between Angolan army and the Cuban forces “forced” the apartheid leaders to give in and sign the New York Agreements, under the mediation of the United States of America, in December 1988, resulting in Namibia's independence, democratisation of the South African society and peace in Angola.

José Eduardo dos Santos, then Angolan President, said, in April 2010, in a tribute to the participants in that military confrontation, that “Cuito Cuanavale Battle” had had an unmistakable repercussion throughout the continent and constitutes an essential reference in the affirmation of the identity and dignity of the African peoples”.

“The Angolan conflict resolution doctrine”

The specialist in African International Relations, Mário Augusto, in his book “Conflicts in Africa and the experience of Angola in their resolution”, reaffirms that peace, stability and development are the strategic priorities of the Angolan foreign policy, based on the respect for the sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of States and mutually advantageous cooperation.

As a result of a painful war experience, which still has serious repercussions on the life of the country and its people today, former President José Eduardo dos Santos defined the three pillars of the now recognised “Angolan Conflict Resolution Doctrine”.

The first pillar defines that the rule of conflict resolution must be dialogue and frank and open debate, as a way to reaching consensus, respecting the effort towards the defence of the rights, freedoms and guarantees of the citizens of a country.

The second states that conflicts should not be resolved through violent confrontation, but through permanent consultation and negotiation, with a view to an agreement that responds to the aspirations of the parties involved and respects the highest national interests, such as sovereignty, unity, integrity of the nation and respect for human dignity.

A sincere reconciliation between the citizens, a mutual forgiveness, a continuous trust effort, a mutual acceptance that leads to the pacification of spirits and a feeling of greater “national partnership” form the third pillar of the “Angolan Conflict Resolution Doctrine”.

This doctrine is part of the positive references, making Angola to become one of the most respected countries in African diplomacy, a merit consolidated over the 45 years, through the development of a diplomatic policy of mutual respect and reciprocal advantages, good neighbourhood and the rules of international treaties of which the country is part or adhered to.

From 1975 to 2002, Angola developed numerous and intense diplomatic actions, which resulted in the signing of several agreements and commitments for the achievement of peace, national reconciliation and stability in some African countries.

A “Headache” called Guinea-Bissau

One of the “frustrations” of the Angolan diplomacy, over the 45 years of independence, is undoubtedly the handling of the complex problem that Guinea-Bissau still experiences today, an independent country since 24 September 1974 and with a very tragic history.

In fact, its history has been marked by coups d'état, which occurred in 1980, 2003 and 2012, as well as by military revolts, which resulted in the death of a President of the Republic, a presidential candidate, three Chiefs of Staff and several other high military and civilian figures.

Guinea-Bissau suffers from profound problems that affect a good part of its political and military elite.

The increase in drug trafficking in the country affects not only neighbouring nations, but the entire region, with consequences to regional stability and security.

Therefore, in a bilateral solidarity effort, Angola offered to provide support for the reform of the defence and security sector, which failed, as the military of that country, “instrumentalised” by the politicians, refused to hand over the power they held.

In fact, Angola’s attempt, through its Mission of Technical-Military Assistance (MISSANG), which envisaged an eminently bilateral solution, for the indispensable reform of the Defence and Security sector, failed, leading to a coup d'état on 12 April 2012.

MISSANG was the result of a bilateral cooperation agreement signed between the governments of the two countries, which included a financial aid programme for Guinea-Bissau and a protocol for technical-military cooperation, to support the reform in the defence and security sector.

CPLP Heads of State held a Summit, in Luanda, on 22 July 2010, and, after intense consultations with their ECOWAS partners, approved a roadmap for the implementation of the defence and security sector reform. CPLP's solidarity with Guinea-Bissau has been permanent and active.

It was also not possible to implement the aforementioned roadmap, contained in a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding, between the Government of Guinea-Bissau, ECOWAS and CPLP, prompting Angolan diplomacy into moving to a multilateral approach to support the stabilisation of Guinea-Bissau.

Today, the multilateral approach to the difficult and unpredictable Guinea-Bissau dossier is made through the P-5 Mechanism, which involves the UN, the African Union, the CPLP, ECOWAS and European Union, with Angola, like all members of the CPLP and the international community, wishing to see that country respect the principles of democratic coexistence and good governance practices, with stability and development.

The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP)

Established on 17 July 1996, in Lisbon, Portugal, CPLP brings together its nine Member States (Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor) for linguistic ties and sharing of historical and cultural legacies, cemented by a multifaceted cooperation among them.

Based on historical and fraternal ties, CPLP's general goals are the political and diplomatic consultation and cooperation among its Member States, and promotion and expansion of the Portuguese language.

Angola, which will take up the presidency of the organisation in 2021, has played an active role in the promotion and dissemination of the Portuguese language, starting from the recognition of the CPLP responsibility in making of the common language an instrument of collective projection and a contribution to the international integration of the Member States and the economic, social and cultural development of their respective peoples.

Undoubtedly, the CPLP is still an organisation of an essentially cultural nature, based on the common language, and continues to have culture as one of its fundamental axes of action.

This can also stimulate and increase intra-community cooperation, with a stress to the current topic: mobility among Member States.

Angola will take up the chair of the organisation in 2021, with the dossier on the mobility among Member States as a priority. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country did not assume the CPLP chair this year.

It is important to remember that CPLP is not a space for economic, social and political integration, as each of its Member States is already part of integration zones in Africa, Europe, America and Asia.

The Angolan diplomacy continues to defend the affirmation of CPLP as a space for political consultation and actions of solidarity, promoting economic, scientific and technical cooperation and cultural and sporting exchanges and deepening mutual knowledge of respective peoples.

The Gulf of Guinea Commission

Angola hosts the headquarters of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, an organisation whose creation followed a deal signed in Libreville (capital of Gabon), on 3 July 2001, by Angola, Congo, Gabon, Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe.

In 2008, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea joined the organisation.

The organisation's main challenge is to maintain the Gulf of Guinea as an area of peace, stability, consultation and cooperation, valuing its immense resources and transforming them into a factor of economic development, promotion of the well-being and social progress of the peoples of the region.

Leaders in the region are aligned to work in a spirit of mutual aid, mutual solidarity and complementarity, to turn the Gulf of Guinea into a zone of peace and security in the South Atlantic, and contribute to the promotion of international trade.

Angola hosts a communication centre, within the framework of the joint work by  the countries in the Gulf of Guinea region, to combat piracy, illegal fishing and immigration and to maintain security in the region.

Relevant facts before independence

Before national independence, diplomatic actions were witnessed that contributed to confirm the determination of Angolans to free themselves from the colonial yoke.

Among the actions carried out by Angolan nationalists in the various corridors of the world diplomacy, a special stress goes to the audience granted by Pope Paul VI, on 1 July  1970, to three leaders of the liberation movements of the then Portuguese colonies in Africa, on the sidelines of the Solidarity Conference with the Peoples of the Portuguese Colonies, which took place just a few days before the meeting, from 27- 29 June.

Amílcar Cabral, from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde (PAIGC), Agostinho Neto, from the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and Marcelino dos Santos, one of the members of the “troika” of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), after the assassination of its founder, Eduardo Mondlane, in 1969, in Dar es Salaam (United Republic of Tanzania).

The event further undermined the already troubled diplomatic relations between Portugal and the Holy See. The Portuguese authorities, at the time, cut off the reference to the right of self-determination of the peoples from the Pope's "Pacem in Terris" encyclical, by John XXIII.

According to reports at the time, another event marked negatively, in the view of the Portuguese government, its relationship with the Vatican.

That was the disclosure made by Cardinal Agostino Casaroli to the Portuguese ambassador to the Holy See, Eduardo Brazão, on 10 March 1970, that the first black bishop in a Portuguese colony, Dom Eduardo André Muaca, would be appointed as the auxiliary bishop of the Luanda Diocese.

The chairman of the Italian Association of Friends of “Présence Africaine”, journalist Marcella Glisenti, was the main organiser of the event gathering the three African independence leaders and Paul VI. She prepared it “meticulously and secretly, to evade the surveillance of the Portuguese political police”.

The preparation of the meeting also involved the archbishop of Conakri, Raymond Marie Tchidimbo, who considered the audience as a “unique occasion” for the recognition, by the Catholic Church, of “the just rights to dignity and self-determination of the Africans peoples”.

An important and diplomatic detail: the Pope's private audience with the three African leaders, accompanied by Marcella Glisenti, took place in the Sala dos Paramentos, where foreign ambassadors were formally received.

No photographic or written record of the meeting is in the public domain, but it is known that the Pope recommended the African leaders to use peaceful means to achieve their ends, distributed to each of them copies of the “Populorum Progressio” encyclical (1967), and bade farewell saying to Amílcar Cabral: “I pray for you!”.

The Catholic magazine “Informations Catholiques Internationales” calls for another title attributed to Pope Paul VI: “The Church is on the side of countries that suffer”.

Twenty-five years after the meeting, Marcelino dos Santos recalled, in an interview with the Portuguese newspaper “Expresso”, in July 1995, that the three African leaders declared to Pope Paul VI that they were fighting for peace, against the colonial and fascist regime, and appealed to His Holiness to advocate before Portugal for the right of the Portuguese colonies to independence.

A reference to the figure of António Manuel Nvunda, known as “O Negrita”, today considered a forerunner of modern Angolan diplomacy, who became famous in the 15th century (1604-1608), as emissary/ambassador of the Kingdom of Kongo to the Vatican.

Upon arrival of the Portuguese, the Kingdom of Kongo converted to Christianity and it was in this context that Prince António Manuel Nvunda was sent to Rome as ambassador, by Dom Álvaro II, King of Portugal, to set up relations with the Holy See.

History recalls Nsaku Ne Vunda (baptised name of António Manuel Nvunda), as the first ambassador of the former Kongo Kingdom to the Holy See, a fact recognised by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, at a public hearing in São Pedro Square, in the Vatican CITY.

Departing from Mbanza Kongo, capital of the former Kongo Kingdom, Nsaku Ne Vunda arrived in Rome on 3 January 1608, after four years of travel. Following a very long and extremely difficult trip in a very poor health condition, Nsaku Ne Vunda became and arrived seriously ill.

Once in the Vatican, he received all possible assistance, but eventually died on the night between the 5 and 6 January of the same year, despite the personal efforts of Pope Paul V, who even acted as his doctor, to assist the visitor.

Diplomatic relations between Angola and the Vatican were established on 8 July 1997, with the appointment of the first non-resident ambassador to the Holy See, Domingos Quiosa, accredited on 7 February 1998. On 13 September 2019, the two States signed a Framework Agreement, recognising the legal status of the Catholic Church in Angola.

The facet of Agostinho Neto as a diplomat

Agostinho Neto, the founder of the Angolan Nation, is recognised as a politician, poet and statesman of national, regional and international prestige, whose path and action are marked by political and diplomatic deeds that are considered decisive for the achievement of national independence and, also, for the liberation of other peoples, particularly in the southern African region.

In August 1978, in a meeting with Angolan ambassadors, Agostinho Neto defended that “It makes no sense. The idea of achieving economic and social freedom is not complete, without making a positive contribution to the political liberation of other peoples. It would be contradictory, it would be betraying the interest of the working classes of the world to refer to the position of selfishness or narrow nationalism”.

 

 

The intense diplomatic activity of Agostinho Neto prevented the struggle of the Angolan people from being isolated and enabled the recognition of Angola around, despite the barriers raised by geo-political and strategic interests, resulting from the “cold war”, generated by world capitalism/imperialism and socialism/communism blocs.

The quotes “Angola is and will be, by its own will, a firm trench of the revolution in Africa” and “In Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa is the continuation of our struggle”, clearly translate Agostinho Neto's “vision of a pragmatic diplomacy”, as defined by the International Relations specialist, Belarmino Van-Dúnem.

And, over the 45 years of independence, the role of Angola was crucial in ending the racist apartheid regime in South Africa and in achieving independence for Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980 and Namibia, on 21 March 1990.

Belarmino Van-Dúnem says that, in the 1990’s, the political situation in the international relations changed with the end of the East-West conflict, beginning a new era that transformed Angola into a “pivotal” country of peace and stability across the African continent.

The focus of Angola must continue to be the practice of an active and sober diplomacy, which works to secure political stability, consolidate peace, security of the country and its citizens, promote sustainable and diversified development, as well as fight inequalities and injustices in the world.

Finally, the country has been an important factor in regional peace and stability and must continue to contribute, at sub-regional level, within the African Union and the United Nations, to the preservation and restoration of peace, stability and universal security.

 

By Rui Vasco, Angop journalist

Angola’s accumulated experience, leading to its affirmation and recognition in the world, has entailed the deepening of bilateral and multilateral relations with all countries, strengthening of scientific and technical cooperation for development, based on fair and mutually advantageous conditions, as well as favouring dialogue and diplomacy over positions of force.

Over the 45 years as an independent nation, Angola exercised a very active and respected diplomacy. It achieved, by its own merit, a prominent position with recognised results, having been twice a non-permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council, and holding two terms as Executive Secretary of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP).

In the performance of its diplomatic agenda, Angola always cooperated with the international community in the fight against terrorism and crime networks, money laundering, human and drugs trafficking and major endemic diseases.

Other strong points on Angola’s diplomatic agenda include the adoption of concrete measures to face global warming and climate change, handling of sensitive dossiers linked to international non-proliferation nuclear weapons treaties and the United Nations Organisation’s reform.

The UN reforms, defended by Angola, seeks to make the organisation more balanced and more just regarding the representation of all continents as permanent members of its Security Council, in order to better reflect the world’s actual geo-political and economic reality.

In fact, Angola defends the African position that demands two permanent seats for the continent in the Security Council.

One of the permanent concerns on Angola’s agenda refers to the prevalence of conflicts. In this domain, Angola defends their peaceful and solution through dialogue, and urges for a fairer, more peaceful and safer world. From its experience, resulted the “Angola’s Conflict Resolution Doctrine”.

In this perspective, Angola has been seeking to focus its action on the promotion of an international agenda of prevention and resolution of conflicts in the world, taking advantage of its national and international leadership experience, particularly within a context in which it chaired the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

Also in the domain of pacification and national reconciliation, integration and social inclusion, including the peace efforts and initiatives, Angola has been transmitting its experience, within the framework of its efforts and initiatives for peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Central Africa Republic and South Sudan.

In his swearing-in speech, on 26 September 2017, President João Lourenço said Angola remains faithful to maintaining the relations of friendship and cooperation with all countries and peoples of the world, on the basis of the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs and reciprocal advantages, toward the safeguard of peace, justice and progress of humanity.

World, continental and regional integration

Since the proclamation of its national independence, on 11 November 1975, the Angolan diplomacy has all along been characterised by a remarkable performance, as it joined the major world, continental and regional political, economic and financial organisations and of other natures.

Therefore, Angola enjoys diplomatic relations with more than 150 countries around the world, and is a full right member of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) and its several specialised systems, the African Union and regional organisations.

Angolan diplomacy favours the most the relations with the neighbouring countries, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), Zambia and Namibia and those from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which are relevant for the defence, security and development of southern Africa, the African Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the African Union, and defends a policy of approximation to the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS), due, among other reasons, to existing historical relations with one of its members, Guinea-Bissau.

Concerning the politico-diplomatic and economic concert and regional integration, Angola is part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), of the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS), of the Portuguese Speaking Community (CPLP), of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL), of the East and West Africa Common  Market (COMESA), of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone ( ZOPACAS), of the African Portuguese-speaking Countries (PALOP) and of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) .

It is worth noting that the Angolan ambassadors Gilberto Veríssimo and Georges Chikoti are the chairman of ECCAS and the Secretary General of the ACP group, respectively.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the current Angolan Foreign minister, ambassador Tete António, was an advisor to the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, and African Union Permanent Observer to the United Nations.

 

Currently, 19 agencies of the UN System are represented in the country, some of which are the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), Development Programme (UNDP) e World Food Programme (WFP), High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) and the Organisations for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), Food and Agriculture (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Angola is also a member of the African Union Human Rights and Peoples and of the United Nations Human Rights, Organisation of the Portuguese Exporting Countries (OPEC), Association of African Petroleum Producing Countries (APPA), Word Bank (BM) and African Development Bank (AfDB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Upon ratifying relevant instruments, Angola began to regularly participate in the activities of the African Union Parliament, SADC, and also ratified the Protocols on Africa Free Trade and of the Southern Africa Development Community.

With a view to contributing to the settlement of matters of global interest, Angola also ratified and adhered to various juridical instruments relating to climate change, namely the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Kigali Amendment and the Montreal Protocol (ozone layer protection).

It has also ratified and/or adhered to, among others, the Convention on Human Rights, on Reduction of Stateless Persons, on the Stateless Person Status, on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, against Torture and other forms of Cruel, Unhuman or Degrading Treatment, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for the abolition of death penalty.

Others are the Protocol on Humanitarian Law (disarmament), Protocol II additional to the Geneva Conventions, on the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts, and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, while, in the field of culture, the country adhered to the Protocol on Intangible Cultural Heritage.

One of the successes of Angola’s cultural diplomacy was the elevation of the historic Mbanza Kongo Centre as a Humanity Cultural Heritage, by UNESCO, in July 2017, during the 41st meeting of its World Heritage Commission, held in Poland.

Bilateral agreements

In the bilateral framework, over the 45 years, agreements were signed in various areas, among which the ones concerning Visa Suppression and Facilitation with South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cuba, China, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Vietnam, South Korea, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Namibia, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Cabo Verde, Republic of Congo and Mozambique.

To avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion and fraud, agreements have also been signed with some countries, the most recent cases being Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

The history of Angolan diplomacy includes defence agreements, with South Africa, Cabo Verde, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Cuba, United States of America, China, South Korea, East Timor, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Serbia.

In the field of Security and Public Order, there are agreements with Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cuba, China, Vietnam, South Korea, East Timor, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Democratic Republic of Congo.

In terms of Justice, there are agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Legal Assistance with Namibia, Cabo Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Zambia, Brazil, Cuba, United States of America, Germany, Portugal, Russia and China.

Worth noting is that, with France and Russia, agreements have been signed on the Use of the Earth Observation System and the Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes, respectively.

Nowadays, economic diplomacy is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of the Angolan foreign policy, aiming at promoting trade at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, the country's prestige abroad, export of goods and services and attraction of foreign direct investment.

Between 2018 and 2019, President João Lourenço invested on an aggressive and successful economic diplomacy, during which he paid State visits, to promote and boost investments, to the United States of America, People's Republic of China, Russian Federation, Japan, Germany, Portugal, France, Italy, South Africa, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

In effect, the then Popular Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA, the name of the then Angolan Army, which remained until the creation of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), in October 1991, under the Bicesse Agreements), backed by Cuban military forces, defeated the South African army, on 23 March 1988, resulting in the date being today adopted as a holiday in all SADC member countries.

The Cuito Cuanavale Battle destroyed the myth of the alleged superiority and invincibility of the “apartheid” regime, which was forced to negotiate, to free Nelson Mandela and accept the inevitable rise to power of the representatives of the black South African majority.

From a diplomatic point of view, the victory of the coalition between Angolan army and the Cuban forces “forced” the apartheid leaders to give in and sign the New York Agreements, under the mediation of the United States of America, in December 1988, resulting in Namibia's independence, democratisation of the South African society and peace in Angola.

José Eduardo dos Santos, then Angolan President, said, in April 2010, in a tribute to the participants in that military confrontation, that “Cuito Cuanavale Battle” had had an unmistakable repercussion throughout the continent and constitutes an essential reference in the affirmation of the identity and dignity of the African peoples”.

“The Angolan conflict resolution doctrine”

The specialist in African International Relations, Mário Augusto, in his book “Conflicts in Africa and the experience of Angola in their resolution”, reaffirms that peace, stability and development are the strategic priorities of the Angolan foreign policy, based on the respect for the sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of States and mutually advantageous cooperation.

As a result of a painful war experience, which still has serious repercussions on the life of the country and its people today, former President José Eduardo dos Santos defined the three pillars of the now recognised “Angolan Conflict Resolution Doctrine”.

The first pillar defines that the rule of conflict resolution must be dialogue and frank and open debate, as a way to reaching consensus, respecting the effort towards the defence of the rights, freedoms and guarantees of the citizens of a country.

The second states that conflicts should not be resolved through violent confrontation, but through permanent consultation and negotiation, with a view to an agreement that responds to the aspirations of the parties involved and respects the highest national interests, such as sovereignty, unity, integrity of the nation and respect for human dignity.

A sincere reconciliation between the citizens, a mutual forgiveness, a continuous trust effort, a mutual acceptance that leads to the pacification of spirits and a feeling of greater “national partnership” form the third pillar of the “Angolan Conflict Resolution Doctrine”.

This doctrine is part of the positive references, making Angola to become one of the most respected countries in African diplomacy, a merit consolidated over the 45 years, through the development of a diplomatic policy of mutual respect and reciprocal advantages, good neighbourhood and the rules of international treaties of which the country is part or adhered to.

From 1975 to 2002, Angola developed numerous and intense diplomatic actions, which resulted in the signing of several agreements and commitments for the achievement of peace, national reconciliation and stability in some African countries.

A “Headache” called Guinea-Bissau

One of the “frustrations” of the Angolan diplomacy, over the 45 years of independence, is undoubtedly the handling of the complex problem that Guinea-Bissau still experiences today, an independent country since 24 September 1974 and with a very tragic history.

In fact, its history has been marked by coups d'état, which occurred in 1980, 2003 and 2012, as well as by military revolts, which resulted in the death of a President of the Republic, a presidential candidate, three Chiefs of Staff and several other high military and civilian figures.

Guinea-Bissau suffers from profound problems that affect a good part of its political and military elite.

The increase in drug trafficking in the country affects not only neighbouring nations, but the entire region, with consequences to regional stability and security.

Therefore, in a bilateral solidarity effort, Angola offered to provide support for the reform of the defence and security sector, which failed, as the military of that country, “instrumentalised” by the politicians, refused to hand over the power they held.

In fact, Angola’s attempt, through its Mission of Technical-Military Assistance (MISSANG), which envisaged an eminently bilateral solution, for the indispensable reform of the Defence and Security sector, failed, leading to a coup d'état on 12 April 2012.

MISSANG was the result of a bilateral cooperation agreement signed between the governments of the two countries, which included a financial aid programme for Guinea-Bissau and a protocol for technical-military cooperation, to support the reform in the defence and security sector.

CPLP Heads of State held a Summit, in Luanda, on 22 July 2010, and, after intense consultations with their ECOWAS partners, approved a roadmap for the implementation of the defence and security sector reform. CPLP's solidarity with Guinea-Bissau has been permanent and active.

It was also not possible to implement the aforementioned roadmap, contained in a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding, between the Government of Guinea-Bissau, ECOWAS and CPLP, prompting Angolan diplomacy into moving to a multilateral approach to support the stabilisation of Guinea-Bissau.

Today, the multilateral approach to the difficult and unpredictable Guinea-Bissau dossier is made through the P-5 Mechanism, which involves the UN, the African Union, the CPLP, ECOWAS and European Union, with Angola, like all members of the CPLP and the international community, wishing to see that country respect the principles of democratic coexistence and good governance practices, with stability and development.

The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP)

Established on 17 July 1996, in Lisbon, Portugal, CPLP brings together its nine Member States (Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor) for linguistic ties and sharing of historical and cultural legacies, cemented by a multifaceted cooperation among them.

Based on historical and fraternal ties, CPLP's general goals are the political and diplomatic consultation and cooperation among its Member States, and promotion and expansion of the Portuguese language.

Angola, which will take up the presidency of the organisation in 2021, has played an active role in the promotion and dissemination of the Portuguese language, starting from the recognition of the CPLP responsibility in making of the common language an instrument of collective projection and a contribution to the international integration of the Member States and the economic, social and cultural development of their respective peoples.

Undoubtedly, the CPLP is still an organisation of an essentially cultural nature, based on the common language, and continues to have culture as one of its fundamental axes of action.

This can also stimulate and increase intra-community cooperation, with a stress to the current topic: mobility among Member States.

Angola will take up the chair of the organisation in 2021, with the dossier on the mobility among Member States as a priority. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country did not assume the CPLP chair this year.

It is important to remember that CPLP is not a space for economic, social and political integration, as each of its Member States is already part of integration zones in Africa, Europe, America and Asia.

The Angolan diplomacy continues to defend the affirmation of CPLP as a space for political consultation and actions of solidarity, promoting economic, scientific and technical cooperation and cultural and sporting exchanges and deepening mutual knowledge of respective peoples.

The Gulf of Guinea Commission

Angola hosts the headquarters of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, an organisation whose creation followed a deal signed in Libreville (capital of Gabon), on 3 July 2001, by Angola, Congo, Gabon, Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe.

In 2008, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea joined the organisation.

The organisation's main challenge is to maintain the Gulf of Guinea as an area of peace, stability, consultation and cooperation, valuing its immense resources and transforming them into a factor of economic development, promotion of the well-being and social progress of the peoples of the region.

Leaders in the region are aligned to work in a spirit of mutual aid, mutual solidarity and complementarity, to turn the Gulf of Guinea into a zone of peace and security in the South Atlantic, and contribute to the promotion of international trade.

Angola hosts a communication centre, within the framework of the joint work by  the countries in the Gulf of Guinea region, to combat piracy, illegal fishing and immigration and to maintain security in the region.

Relevant facts before independence

Before national independence, diplomatic actions were witnessed that contributed to confirm the determination of Angolans to free themselves from the colonial yoke.

Among the actions carried out by Angolan nationalists in the various corridors of the world diplomacy, a special stress goes to the audience granted by Pope Paul VI, on 1 July  1970, to three leaders of the liberation movements of the then Portuguese colonies in Africa, on the sidelines of the Solidarity Conference with the Peoples of the Portuguese Colonies, which took place just a few days before the meeting, from 27- 29 June.

Amílcar Cabral, from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde (PAIGC), Agostinho Neto, from the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and Marcelino dos Santos, one of the members of the “troika” of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), after the assassination of its founder, Eduardo Mondlane, in 1969, in Dar es Salaam (United Republic of Tanzania).

The event further undermined the already troubled diplomatic relations between Portugal and the Holy See. The Portuguese authorities, at the time, cut off the reference to the right of self-determination of the peoples from the Pope's "Pacem in Terris" encyclical, by John XXIII.

According to reports at the time, another event marked negatively, in the view of the Portuguese government, its relationship with the Vatican.

That was the disclosure made by Cardinal Agostino Casaroli to the Portuguese ambassador to the Holy See, Eduardo Brazão, on 10 March 1970, that the first black bishop in a Portuguese colony, Dom Eduardo André Muaca, would be appointed as the auxiliary bishop of the Luanda Diocese.

The chairman of the Italian Association of Friends of “Présence Africaine”, journalist Marcella Glisenti, was the main organiser of the event gathering the three African independence leaders and Paul VI. She prepared it “meticulously and secretly, to evade the surveillance of the Portuguese political police”.

The preparation of the meeting also involved the archbishop of Conakri, Raymond Marie Tchidimbo, who considered the audience as a “unique occasion” for the recognition, by the Catholic Church, of “the just rights to dignity and self-determination of the Africans peoples”.

An important and diplomatic detail: the Pope's private audience with the three African leaders, accompanied by Marcella Glisenti, took place in the Sala dos Paramentos, where foreign ambassadors were formally received.

No photographic or written record of the meeting is in the public domain, but it is known that the Pope recommended the African leaders to use peaceful means to achieve their ends, distributed to each of them copies of the “Populorum Progressio” encyclical (1967), and bade farewell saying to Amílcar Cabral: “I pray for you!”.

The Catholic magazine “Informations Catholiques Internationales” calls for another title attributed to Pope Paul VI: “The Church is on the side of countries that suffer”.

Twenty-five years after the meeting, Marcelino dos Santos recalled, in an interview with the Portuguese newspaper “Expresso”, in July 1995, that the three African leaders declared to Pope Paul VI that they were fighting for peace, against the colonial and fascist regime, and appealed to His Holiness to advocate before Portugal for the right of the Portuguese colonies to independence.

A reference to the figure of António Manuel Nvunda, known as “O Negrita”, today considered a forerunner of modern Angolan diplomacy, who became famous in the 15th century (1604-1608), as emissary/ambassador of the Kingdom of Kongo to the Vatican.

Upon arrival of the Portuguese, the Kingdom of Kongo converted to Christianity and it was in this context that Prince António Manuel Nvunda was sent to Rome as ambassador, by Dom Álvaro II, King of Portugal, to set up relations with the Holy See.

History recalls Nsaku Ne Vunda (baptised name of António Manuel Nvunda), as the first ambassador of the former Kongo Kingdom to the Holy See, a fact recognised by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, at a public hearing in São Pedro Square, in the Vatican CITY.

Departing from Mbanza Kongo, capital of the former Kongo Kingdom, Nsaku Ne Vunda arrived in Rome on 3 January 1608, after four years of travel. Following a very long and extremely difficult trip in a very poor health condition, Nsaku Ne Vunda became and arrived seriously ill.

Once in the Vatican, he received all possible assistance, but eventually died on the night between the 5 and 6 January of the same year, despite the personal efforts of Pope Paul V, who even acted as his doctor, to assist the visitor.

Diplomatic relations between Angola and the Vatican were established on 8 July 1997, with the appointment of the first non-resident ambassador to the Holy See, Domingos Quiosa, accredited on 7 February 1998. On 13 September 2019, the two States signed a Framework Agreement, recognising the legal status of the Catholic Church in Angola.

The facet of Agostinho Neto as a diplomat

Agostinho Neto, the founder of the Angolan Nation, is recognised as a politician, poet and statesman of national, regional and international prestige, whose path and action are marked by political and diplomatic deeds that are considered decisive for the achievement of national independence and, also, for the liberation of other peoples, particularly in the southern African region.

In August 1978, in a meeting with Angolan ambassadors, Agostinho Neto defended that “It makes no sense. The idea of achieving economic and social freedom is not complete, without making a positive contribution to the political liberation of other peoples. It would be contradictory, it would be betraying the interest of the working classes of the world to refer to the position of selfishness or narrow nationalism”.

 

 

The intense diplomatic activity of Agostinho Neto prevented the struggle of the Angolan people from being isolated and enabled the recognition of Angola around, despite the barriers raised by geo-political and strategic interests, resulting from the “cold war”, generated by world capitalism/imperialism and socialism/communism blocs.

The quotes “Angola is and will be, by its own will, a firm trench of the revolution in Africa” and “In Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa is the continuation of our struggle”, clearly translate Agostinho Neto's “vision of a pragmatic diplomacy”, as defined by the International Relations specialist, Belarmino Van-Dúnem.

And, over the 45 years of independence, the role of Angola was crucial in ending the racist apartheid regime in South Africa and in achieving independence for Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980 and Namibia, on 21 March 1990.

Belarmino Van-Dúnem says that, in the 1990’s, the political situation in the international relations changed with the end of the East-West conflict, beginning a new era that transformed Angola into a “pivotal” country of peace and stability across the African continent.

The focus of Angola must continue to be the practice of an active and sober diplomacy, which works to secure political stability, consolidate peace, security of the country and its citizens, promote sustainable and diversified development, as well as fight inequalities and injustices in the world.

Finally, the country has been an important factor in regional peace and stability and must continue to contribute, at sub-regional level, within the African Union and the United Nations, to the preservation and restoration of peace, stability and universal security.