The foreign relations of South Africa have changed dramatically, from its time as a British colony, to its separatist and isolationist policies during the Apartheid, to its current position as a responsible actor on the international stage, one that plays an integral role in the entire continent of Africa.South Africa is the leader in African peacekeeping and plays a significant role in global governance. The country has an active presence in the United Nations, the African Union, the Commonwealth and BRICS. It was elected by the UN General Assembly to serve on the Security Council twice, first in 2006 and then 2010. It is also an aspiring UN Security Council permanent member.As a founding member of the United Nations, the then South African Prime Minister, Jan Smuts, drafted the Preamble to the United Nations Charter. As for the BRICS group (composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), South Africa is seen as being more invested in the grouping than any of its members. This represents for the country a powerful instrument to advance its national interests and to boost its international standing, address transnational challenges, and reform existing global governance structures.South Africa’s search for alternatives to the current world order reflects a desire for more equitable global institutions and a counterweight to still-dominant Western powers. South Africans have long felt excluded from decision-making in international organisations and are seeking to increase the representation and weight of developing countries in such bodies. In this regard, the BRICS are seen as providing a powerful challenge to the Western-dominated world order.However, significant domestic challenges, such as massive inequality, high unemployment, widespread poverty and persistent corruption present major obstacles to the country’s ability to achieve its objectives and also threaten its internal stability.South Africa has played a key role as a mediator in African conflicts over the last decade, such as in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Comoros, and Zimbabwe. Although South Africa is scaling back its involvement in peacekeeping operations, this is not a full-scale withdrawal. The country remains anxious to be seen as the continent’s natural leader. Moreover, South Africa is aware that leadership in African peacekeeping is a crucial justification in its bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat. At the same time, continental leadership is a central component of South Africa’s power on the global stage.Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has become a stabilising but inconsistent leader on the continent. It will continue to be a major presence in regional peacekeeping, but its ability to achieve its aspirations on the global stage will depend not only on how it navigates relations with existing and other emerging powers, but also on its capacity to put its own house in order.