Nudge on Namibia

A particularly encouraging offshoot of the Ottawa economic summit was the meeting of foreign ministers on another subject: Namibia (South-West Africa). They represented five Western nations that sponsored the 1978 US Security Council resolution calling for supervised elections and independence for Namibia. They issued a joint statement agreeing on "the urgent need" to continue the effort to bring about independence in accordance with the resolution.

It was especially useful for US Secretary of State Haig to join with the ministers of Canada, Britain, France, and West Germany in the display or urgency. For there has been international concern that Washington's stated attitude of "constructive engagement" with South Africa, which rules Namibia in defiance of the UN, may mean a further slowdown in the diplomatic process. The reasoning is that this undemanding approach by the US could seem to reward South Africa's refusal to comply with the resolution long after South Africa had seemed to go along with the five nations' diplomatic efforts toward independence.

The Reagan administration argues that its concern for a Namibian solution is undiminished and that its approach is more promising in the long run than overt confrontation with South Africa. We trust that there is activism behind Washington's "constructive engagement" policy, and that the ripples from Ottawa will indeed reach Namibian shores.

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