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continue and may forever continue to be interdependent of one another. A
country’s foreign policy is largely determined by its geography, history,
external threats, military might and domestic political and economic situation.
It is also influenced by the nature and ideology of regimes in power, the
interests of bureaucrats and pressure groups, as well as the country’s exposure
to the external/international environment. While a country cannot change its
geography and history, other factors are subject to change, and for that reason
foreign policy must be adaptable to changing circumstances to be meaningful and
relevant. It is therefore necessary for states to interact with other states to
achieve some level of benefits. The level of interaction among countries in the
international system is greatly determined by a country’s foreign policy.
Leaders of states are therefore obliged to pursue such policies that will
promote the realization of the primary purpose of improving the living
standards of their people. 

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policy concerns the total sum of official international relations espoused by
an independent authority, usually a state, in external relations with other
states (Dougherty & Pfaltzgraff, 2001). Ultimately, foreign policy
determines the recognition or otherwise of some pacts between the domestic
government and a foreign one (Dugbazah, 2007). Foreign policies are essential
in order to help protect the interests of a nation, ensure its security, and
promote its economic prosperity (Salia, 2010). Ghana for instance, endorsed the
formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975
which was a useful tool for boosting Ghanaian exports to regional markets
(Jeffries, 1982).

Ghana attained independence, her foreign policy has been embodied by a
commitment to the principles and ideologies of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism
as first expressed in the early 1960s by Ghana’s first Prime Minister and
subsequently President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Embassy of the Republic of Ghana in
Iran, n.d.). According to Gebe (2008), Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was rather confronted
with a more complex system with effects for both domestic politics and foreign
relations. His government was ousted in 1966, pushing the country to undergo
drastic changes in its foreign policy.


underpinning principles guiding Ghana’s foreign policy are underscored in the
1992 Constitution. Article 40 of the Constitution provides the broad
principles, and highlights her foreign policy for the “Promoting and protection
of the interest of Ghana; Establishment of a just and equitable international,
economic, political and social order; Promotion of respect for international
law and treaty obligations; Promotion of the settlement of international
disputes through peaceful means; and 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.”


Ghana, the power to create foreign policy is vested in the presidency and the
Foreign Minister (Salia, 2010). The legislature has considerable oversight in
some countries. The Constitution of Ghana has mandated the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs to promote and protect the interest of Ghana and those of her citizens
abroad. It also aims to safeguard her security and prosperity through the
promotion of friendly and productive relations with all nations. The motive
behind this constitutional mandate is to promote Ghana’s image in other
countries and to advance economic benefits with other countries through foreign
investment, tourism, exports, technological and cultural means (Salia 2010).



1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana expressly empowers the Head of State
to lead the formulation of the country’s foreign policy. Over the years,
Ghana’s foreign policy has been criticised as “follow-the-crowd-type” which is
attributed to the assumption that Ghana’s foreign policy has no consistency and
unique doctrinal bearing or model (Salia, 2010). Critics also argue that
formulation of policies such as foreign policy have been monopolised by top
government officials only who are reactive instead of proactive. Secondly,
official position on the goals foreign policy seeks to achieve is often vague
and lacks clear policy direction. Finally, the Executive is the sole
implementers of the policy. Though there are assertions that Ghana’s foreign
policy takes certain factors into consideration, there have been some
disparities in policy-making since independence due to changes in government.
This study therefore seeks to examine the principles that have guided the
formulation of Ghana’s foreign policy and its influence in the contemporary
international system with the view to making recommendations for improvement.




1.2.1    What are
the factors that influence foreign policy decisions?


1.2.2    Has
there been any significant change in Ghana’s foreign policy since independence


under the various leadership?


1.2.3    Did
Ghana’s foreign policy improve the living standards of Ghanaians?


1.2.4    How is
the current policy impacting on the contemporary international system?


1.3       OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                                                

broad objective of this study is to examine the guiding principles of Ghana’s
foreign policy in the contemporary international system. To achieve this, the
following specific objectives will guide the study:

1.3.1    Establish the factors that have influenced
the foreign policy decisions of successive governments.

1.3.2    Investigate whether there have been
significant changes in Ghana’s foreign policy since independence under various

1.3.3    Assess the impact of Ghana’s foreign policy on
the improvement of the living standards of Ghanaians.

Examine the impact of
the current policies on the contemporary international system.




study focuses on the principles of Ghana’s foreign policy in the contemporary international
system. It will consider the parameters adapted by the various heads of state since
independence in the formulation of Ghana’s foreign policy and assess the benefits
it has brought to the country. It will also ascertain whether the foreign policy
has been consistent among successive governments in contemporary international system.


1.5       HYPOTHESIS

H0: Ghana’s foreign policy content has not
been consistent among successive governments in contemporary international



a large extent, Ghana’s foreign policy has been criticised for inconsistencies
after independence. This study seeks to examine the trend in policy formulation
determine whether the policy decision of past government leaders is a better
alternative for succeeding leaders to adopt in contemporary international
environments. The study would also guide foreign policy makers in contingent
international situations. This study would also become a reference for
researchers who want to conduct further studies in foreign policy formulation.



Gustavsson Model of
Foreign Policy Change

the hypothesis of this study suggests that Ghana’s
foreign policy content has not been consistent among successive governments,
this model is relevant in order to analyse the factors that have influenced the
overhauling of Ghana’s foreign policies anytime power changes hands. It would
also help analyse the international and domestic forces that have influenced
the leadership traits in the foreign policy making journey of Ghana.

after analysing some models of foreign policy concluded that those models
contained “promising ideas and analytical pitfalls”.  The models he analysed included Goldmann’s
model of stabilizers, Skidmore’s model, Rosati’s model, and Herman’s model of
foreign policy decision making. Therefore the model that he developed was as a
result of critiquing the works done by others. His position was that a theory
must focus on the “simultaneous occurrence of changes in the fundamental
structural conditions, strategic political leadership and the presence of some
kind” (Gustavsson, 1999).


Gustavsson models’ assumption is that for foreign policies to change,
structural conditions are essential for the change to occur. This implies that
a foreign policy decision maker reacts to the sources of change, which informs
their decision making process, leading to a change in foreign policy. Thus, the
policy makers acts as the pivot of the decision making process while other
dependent factors revolve around them. However, the chances of success will be
high if this is associated with a crisis of a sort as these tend to unlock
prohibiting institutional conditions and increase the need for political risk.


(1999) suggested that there are two main categories under which the fundamental
structural conditions can be grouped. They are international and domestic
factors, which are subdivided into economic and political factors. At the
international level, a distinction is made between international politics and
the international political economy. According to Srivastava (n.d.),
international politics concerns the “practical realities of a state’s
interaction with another state or several other states”. He further mentioned
that on the academic front, it deals with applying international relations
theories and applying them analytically to contemporary issues in the
international system.

economic factors or international political economy is concerned with the
“cross border economic transactions and the institutional conditions governing
such transactions”. Frieden & Martin (2003) argued that the interaction
between domestic and international factors affect economic policies and
outcomes. Also, at the domestic level, Gustavsson (1999) wrote that certain
conditions are being put in place to ensure continuous support needed from
voters, political parties, societal stakeholders, as well as civil
organisations to help push a particular foreign policy agenda or propaganda.
This concept drew its strength from the public choice theory, which explains
why huge attention is given to electoral outcomes, opinion polls, and allies
formed between political parties and other civil society organisations.


factors have to do with the overall level of the economic development of the
state. Statistical economic indicators like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the
rate of inflation, rate of unemployment, per capita income, living standard,
interest rates, foreign direct investment (FDI) are the reflection of the
economic development of the country (n.d.).


consequence of both international and domestic factors is the cognitive factor.
Therefore, the assumption is that the sources of change have to be conceived by
the decision makers and also cause a change in their personal beliefs in order
to influence the public policy. It may also involve a group, but for resources
and time, it may involve only individuals who have the greatest impact on the
policy and possibly are like-minded.


model also highlights the psychoanalytic theory which emphasised that the
making of foreign policy is dependent on the belief system of the leader.
Hence, the formulation of such policies are not based on objective assessment
of the situation or what pertains in the international system, but is based on
the individual’s principles, views, perception, history, and psychological
understanding (Renshon & Renshon, 2008).


model assumes that the policy maker(s) must perceive the source of change
(domestic and international) which translates into their belief system and
bring about a change in those beliefs. Thus, a change in belief is plays an
essential role in public policy change.





1: The Casual Dynamics
of Foreign Policy Change










figure above illustrates the casual dynamics of foreign policy change
illustrating the various factors that influence those changes. The individual
is placed in the centre of the decision making dynamics, and all other things
revolves around him. The three steps: international and domestic factors,
individual decision-makers, and the decision making process is based in
Herman’s typology of foreign policy change. The typology is connected to two
feedback arrows, indicating that once a change has occurred, it might affect
international and domestic factors, and possibly contribute to a new round of
foreign policy change.


& Herman (2001) referred to the individual model as the ‘predominant
leader’ under the authoritative decision unit. The predominant leader succeeds
if there is only one constitutionally elected, or there is the existence of a
general law which commits the nation’s resources foreign policy making; if
there is a bureaucratic foreign policy system with the most powerful of all
decision making individuals at the helm of affair. A case study of the 1990
Swedish orientation on its membership of the then European Commission (now
European Union) empirically applied this model which positively proved the
assumptions of this model (Gustavsson, 1998).

study by Doeser (2011) also supported the assumptions of Gustavsson’s Model of
Policy Change. The study found how domestic politics can impact on changes in
foreign security policy of small states. The study showed that changes in two
particular domestic political factors, in terms of party opposition and public
opinion facilitated a change in foreign policy by creating opportunities for
the government to use foreign policy change as a strategy to increase its
political power on the domestic scene. The study also highlighted the role that
external forces played. When changing its foreign policy, the Danish government
sought to multiply payoffs in both international and domestic gains.


study suggested that the foreign policies of democratic states, like Ghana, are
exposed to major pressures from both the international and domestic fronts
which may influence the policy decisions taken by those in authority. Thus,
leaders of democratic states are more likely to pay attention to international
and domestic factors when making their foreign policies.


model was however criticised by Maull (2013) who said that a shift or a change
in foreign policy could not be dependent only on interaction between domestic
and international factors with the leader being the only decision maker. He
emphasised that a change in foreign policy depends highly on the role that a
state plays in the international system. For instance, if Ghana, according UN
convention must accept refugees from countries where there is war, this event
would have a more powerful effect on the foreign policy direction of the
country rather than just what the leader feels is right. Also, the model does
not address whether foreign policy change, on the average, is more likely to
come in occasional, but substantial, shifts or in gradual modifications.



books and journals to be reviewed during the study include:

Macridis, RC (1992). Foreign Policy in World Politics (8th Edition) A Pearson
Education Company, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

Clarke M & White B (1995). Understanding Foreign
Policy. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd Great Yarmouth, Britain.

Gombe K. & Ajulu R (2002). Ashgate Publishing Company
131 MainStreet Burlington VT 05401-5600 USA

Ryan, K.B, Kaarbo, J., Lantis,J.S., & Snarr,
M.T. (2013). Foreign Policy Comparative
Perspective. Sage: London.

Boakye, K. (n.d.). Six factors that has influenced
Ghana’s foreign policy since independence. Retrieved from

Betz J. (n.d.). The Interaction between Domestic
Factors and Foreign Policies in India. Retrieved from

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative Enquiry &
Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Eidenfalk, J. (2006, June). Towards a new model of foreign policy change. Paper presented at
Australasian Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Newcastle.
Retrieved from

Embassy of the Republic of Ghana Tehran, Iran.
(n.d.). Foreign Policy of Ghana. Retrieved from

Gebe, B.Y. (2008). Ghana’s Foreign Policy at
Independence and Implications for the 1966 Coup D’état. The Journal of Pan African Studies, 2(3),

Kjell, (1988), Change and Stability in Foreign Policy: The Problems and
Possibilities of Détente. 

(1990), Changing Course: When Governments Chose to Redirect Foreign Policy

(2016), Public choice in foreign policy

Jacobs, L.R., & Page, B.I. (n.d.). Who
Influences U.S. Foreign Policy? Institute
of Policy Research.

Jeffries, R. (1982). Rawlings and the Political
Economy of Underdevelopment in Ghana. African Affairs, 81(324) 307-17

Awal, M. (2017, January 23). Ghana’s foreign policy
will be economic diplomacy. Retrieved from

Sanusi, A.H. & Adu-Gyamfi, S. (2017). Ghana’s
foreign policy: Some regional and national interests. Journal of Human Sciences 14(1),

Kwawukume, V. (2017). Foreign Ministry gets
Economic, Trade and Investment Bureau. Retrieved from

Naveh, C. (2002). The Role of the Media in Foreign
Policy Decision-Making: A Theoretical Framework. Conflict and Communication Online, 1(2), 1-13

Page, B.I., & Shapiro, R.Y. (1983). Effects of
Public Opinion on Policy. American Political Science Review 77(1), 175–90.



study would depend on both primary and secondary data. Primary data would be
gathered through unstructured interviews with Ghanaian public officials in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as academicians in the field of
international affairs. Secondary data would be sourced by reviewing books,
journals, newspapers, and other relevant materials on international relations
and foreign policy.



1.10.1  Research design

order to undertake this study successfully, a qualitative design approach would
be adopted. The choice for this approach to the study is motivated by the
assertion that qualitative research is suitable for explaining events, some
quality or a phenomenon. This study aims at identifying non quantifiable
influential events, and determines factors that accounts for differences and
similarities in foreign policy directions in contemporary international
environment (Creswell, 2007).


1.10.2  Analysis and interpretation of data

study would use content analysis of data collected to do comparative analysis
and interpretation of the complexities of continuity and changes in foreign
policy decision making and its influence on contemporary international system.


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