Yolanda Spies

Associate Professor


I trained as diplomat at the South African foreign ministry and at Oxford University, and practiced diplomacy for 19 years, living and working on four continents before I joined academia.

My doctoral studies on diplomatic training for developing countries, completed in 2005, resulted in my designing and presenting training for diplomats from various African countries, as well as a customized Master of Diplomatic Studies program for the University of Pretoria. I directed the MDIPS program until March 2016, after which I joined the University of Johannesburg as Senior Research Fellow of the SARCHI Chair in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy. In that position I had the flexibility to travel widely, in order to guest lecture at institutions across the world, to design courses and to act as external reviewer, moderator, assessor and supervisor to postgraduate students. Until December 2019 I also spent an annual term at Webster University's Ghana campus, where I lectured as Adjunct Faculty. In January 2020 I moved to Abu Dhabi to join Zayed University.

Research and Professional Activities

Research interests:

 My areas of academic specialization include the theory and practice of diplomacy, foreign policy analysis, international organization, international law, conflict resolution, changing global power relations, African politics and ethics in international relations.


Current Projects:

I am currently doing research on South Africa as an awkward emerging power; Africa’s troubled relations with the International Criminal Court, and the issue of xenophobia in African inter-state relations.




Teaching Areas

Current courses taught at ZU are:

  • International Organizations (Undergraduate)
  • International Relations (Graduate)


Single-authored books


  • Spies, Y.K.  2019.  Global Diplomacy and International Society. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-95524-7
  • Spies, Y.K.  2019. Global South Perspectives on Diplomacy. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-030-00529-0

Peer reviewed Journal Articles and Book Chapters


  • Blake, R.M. and Spies, Y.K. 2019. Non-coercive Defence Diplomacy for Conflict Prevention.  Scientia Militaria, Vol 47(1), 2019. ISSN-22240020
  • Spies, Y.K. 2018. African Diplomacy. Chapter in Martel, G. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Diplomacy. London: John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 978-1-118-88791-2.