The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is a South African government department responsible for the country’s foreign policy and diplomatic relations with other nations and international organisations. Established in 1994, DIRCO's mission is to promote and protect South Africa's national interests, advance its foreign policy objectives and contribute to a peaceful and prosperous world.
The department engages in various activities to achieve these goals, including bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, economic and trade relations, consular services, and development cooperation.
DIRCO promotes and protects South Africa's political, economic, and strategic interests abroad. Representing South Africa in international forums and organisations such as the United Nations, African Union, and BRICS is critical. The department maintains diplomatic relations with over 190 countries, embassies, high commissions, and consulates worldwide. In addition to its diplomatic and international relations functions, DIRCO also promotes South Africa's cultural heritage and diversity and builds bridges between the country and other nations.
The department has several departments and divisions that carry out its functions, including the Office of the Minister, Office of the Director-General, Corporate Services, Africa Regional Cooperation and Integration, Americas and Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East, Central, East, and West Africa, Europe and the Middle East, International Cooperation and Resources, and Public Diplomacy and Protocol.
DIRCO is the only authority to apostle documents in South Africa under the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. The Apostille Convention simplifies the process of authenticating public documents for use in foreign countries.
Any document requiring an Apostille for use abroad must be submitted to DIRCO for authentication, as the Competent Authority is responsible for issuing Apostille for public documents issued by government bodies or institutions.
In summary, DIRCO's key functions include managing South Africa's international relations, promoting international trade and investment, providing development assistance, representing South Africa in multilateral organisations, and providing consular services to South African citizens abroad.