Front cover

The Role of the Highest Courts of the United States of America and South Africa, and the European Court of Justice in Foreign Affairs

July 2019 Author: Dr Riaan Eksteen, Former South African Ambassador



  • Published: July 2019
  • Pages: xxxiv + 448 pp., 2 ill.
  • Publisher: T.M.C. ASSER PRESS
  • Distributor: Springer

This book deals with what the author considers a sorely neglected question, namely the role of the judiciary in states' foreign policy processes. Eksteen argues that the impact of the judiciary on foreign affairs is understudied and that recognition of its role in foreign affairs is now due. This makes it a ground-breaking scholarly contribution that should first of all prove of value to students, scholars, researchers and practitioners in the two broad fields of politics and law for the wide scope of issues it covers and the very comprehensive reference lists it contains. Secondly, professionals working within politics, including members of the legislatures of the United States, the European Union and South Africa, as well as members of the judiciaries there, should find this book of benefit.

A detailed examination has been undertaken of the role of the United States Supreme Court, the two high courts in South Africa, namely the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the European Court of Justice of the European Union, in foreign affairs. The author substantiates the unmistakable fact that these Courts have become involved in and influence foreign affairs. Furthermore, that they have not shied away from using their judicial authority when dealing with cases touching on foreign affairs and especially presidential overreach.

The lack of recognition of the judiciary's role in foreign affairs is still noticeable in Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) literature. This book concludes that FPA has to accept and give proper recognition to the judiciary and its increasing relevance in foreign affairs.

Dr Riaan Eksteen is a Former South African Ambassador residing in Namibia; from 1968-1973 he served at the South African Embassy in Washington D.C.; between 1976-1994, he subsequently served as Ambassador and Head of Mission at the U.N. in New York (1976-81), in Namibia (1990-91), at the U.N. in Geneva (1992-94), and in Turkey, with accreditation also to Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (1995-97). He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Johannesburg in October 2018.

Specific to this book:

  • Focuses on four High Courts and represents an innovative and ground-breaking study.
  • Constitutes a valuable and solid scholarly contribution to the literature in Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) and the broader field of international relations.
  • Exposes the vacuum in FPA literature on the role of the judiciary in foreign affairs.
  • Makes a strong and well-substantiated case for its findings by highlighting the Courts’ determination to hold the executive accountable.
  • Explains the unique position of the ECJ in the EU and interprets the dedicated aim to further European integration through its decisions.
  • Pays special attention to the current Brexit issue in which the ECJ forms a distinct feature.

With a foreword by Marijke Breuning, Professor of Political Science, University of North Texas; Former Editor American Political Science Review, 2012-2016; Author of Foreign Policy Analysis: A Comparative Introduction (2007) .

The author, Dr Riaan Eksteen, presenting a copy of his book to the Hon. Dr Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of Namibia’s National Assembly, during the presentation of the book in Windhoek, Namibia, on 9 August 2019.

At the beginning of August, at the instigation of the author four successful book launches were held in Namibia and South Africa. In the above picture the author, Dr Riaan Eksteen, can be seen presenting a copy of his book to the Hon. Dr Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of Namibia’s National Assembly, during the presentation of the book in Windhoek, Namibia, on 9 August 2019.

Excerpt from a review of the book:

Overall, this is a well-organized book with a clear focus on research questions. The three cases examined, with their similarities, but mainly their differences, are typical examples geographically and politically. The author's multifaceted experience in foreign policy, having served as Ambassador of South Africa, in important positions worldwide, combined with his legal and political academic expertise are the guarantee for a successful analysis of the subject matter in the book. Through very rich case law, the reader is given the opportunity to immerse himself in the role of the supreme courts in important political situations regarding foreign policy.
- Dr. Konstantinos Margaritis (Adjunct Academic at the Hellenic Open University, Member of the Board of Directors of the Greek Public Law Association, Attorney at Law), Book Review in Greek Journal Public Law Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 3-4, 2020, pp. 302-303, published by the Greek Public Law Association

Subscribe to keep up to date with our publications