Ghana’s Foreign Policy Guidelines

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in concert with its Diplomatic Missions abroad, has the responsibility for the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy. To that end, the Ministry is the chief advisor to the Government in the formulation of Ghana’s foreign policy. In order to carry out its Mission, the Ministry makes recommendations to the Government on appropriate initiatives, options and responses in the light of unfolding domestic and international events and situations.

The fundamental principles that guide Ghana’s foreign policy are contained in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution. Article 40 of the Constitution provides the broad principles underpinning her foreign policy as follows:

i. Promotion and protection of the interest of Ghana;

ii. Establishment of a just and equitable international, economic, political and social order;

iii. Promotion of respect for international law and treaty obligations;

iv. Promotion of the settlement of international disputes through peaceful means; and

v. Adherence to the principles enshrined in the Charter and aims or ideals of the United Nations, the African Union, the ECOWAS, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement.

In fashioning Ghana’s foreign policy, the Ministry takes into account all the factors that impinge directly or indirectly on the national interest. This involves the protection and defence of the territorial integrity of Ghana, ensuring peace and stability for Ghana and the sub-region, contributing to wider international peace and security, cultivating a favourable image of Ghana abroad and defending that image.

A nation’s foreign policy has been variously defined in terms of a sovereign state’s interaction with other states. While some analysts prefer, perhaps, a rather simplistic interpretation of foreign policy as the external manifestation of the domestic factors and objectives of the nation, others see foreign policy, indeed, as an extension of domestic policy. Irrespective of one’s perception of foreign policy, the common denominator is, the evolution of a set of objectives employed by a nation in advancing its own interest including its survival and prosperity within a common global security system and development. National interests inevitably provide that bedrock of the foreign policy of any given state.

Perhaps to better appreciate Ghana’s foreign policy as it pertains today, it will be appropriate to give a brief historical appraisal of the nation’s foreign policy objectives since independence.

Ghana’s foreign policy from independence in 1957 to the present, and spanning ten different administrations, has remained largely unchanged in its basic tenets. The foundation of this policy, which derived from the nation’s historical, geographical and economic perspective, was laid during the First Republic.

Over the years, there have been critical reappraisals of foreign policy, particularly in 1982 and in 2001 with a view to making Ghana’s foreign policy more positive, more relevant to changes on the international climate and more proactive.

Ghana’s foreign policy involved the call for a United Africa which would culminate in political, social and economic integration of African countries. It can be said with pride that the launching of the African Union in 2001 only marked a return to the Pan-Africanist project of Ghana’s visionary leader and first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. To demonstrate her support for these ideals of unity, Ghana’s Republican Constitution was amended under President Nkrumah, to prepare the grounds for surrendering part of the country’s sovereignty, for a union between Ghana, Guinea and Mali. The Government’s objective was based on the recognition that Africa, divided into a collection of small states, would not have the economies of scale required for the advancement of its peoples.

However, a number of African countries then did not share Ghana’s fervour for a united Africa and as such the Organisation of African Unity as it came to be constituted, fell short of what was perceived by the late President.

Irrespective of her strong stand against the colonial powers, Ghana adopted a pragmatic outlook in seeking economic cooperation with a number of countries, both in the East and West. Fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation with the industrialised countries was pursued to procure the much needed financial and technical assistance for the young nation’s economic programmes. In this regard, the policy of Non-Alignment to which Ghana adhered served a useful purpose. This policy meant the Ghana was neither affiliated to the East or West, the two major world blocs and could, though sometimes with difficulty, solicit support from either bloc. Nkrumah was, however, quick to distinguish between neutrality and what he perceived as negative neutrality. Positive neutrality unlike the other did not imply an apathetic attitude but a necessity to formulate opinions on issues of global concern on their own merit.

The foundation laid for the nation’s foreign policy during the First Republic helps to outline and make better understanding of Ghana’s foreign policy direction as it exists today. Today, Ghana’s foreign policy constitutes of a mixed bag of progressive views on topical events, pragmatic management and pursuit of economic programmes, and vigorous yet objective dedication to West African and African causes and those of developing countries. Traditional political and topical issues of concern are also considered on their own merit.