3. What Agreements Came Out of the Berlin Conference

The Berlin Conference, also known as the Congo Conference, was a meeting of European colonial powers held in 1884-1885 in Berlin, Germany. The purpose of the conference was to divide and regulate European colonization and trade in Africa, without regard for the interests and rights of the African people.

Despite being a product of colonialism, the Berlin Conference did lead to some agreements among the European powers. Here are three key agreements that came out of the conference:

1. The division of Africa

One of the main outcomes of the Berlin Conference was the agreement to divide Africa into territories that would be administered by European powers. The conference established the principle of “effective occupation” – the idea that a European power could claim sovereignty over an African territory if it established “effective occupation” of that territory and notified the other European powers.

The European powers drew borders on maps and divided the continent into spheres of influence, often with little regard for the cultural and linguistic diversity of the African people. This led to conflicts and tensions among African nations that continue to this day.

2. The suppression of the slave trade

The European powers agreed to work together to suppress the slave trade in Africa. However, this was largely a matter of self-interest, as the European powers saw the slave trade as a threat to their economic and political interests in Africa.

The suppression of the slave trade was not accompanied by any measures to address the root causes of slavery in Africa, such as poverty and political instability. As a result, slavery continued to exist in some places in Africa, and the legacy of slavery continues to affect African societies today.

3. The recognition of free trade in the Congo Basin

The delegates at the Berlin Conference agreed to recognize the principle of free trade in the Congo Basin. This was seen as a way to promote economic development and trade in the region, which was rich in natural resources such as rubber and ivory.

However, the European powers soon began to exploit the resources of the region for their own benefit, often through forced labor and other abuses. This led to the brutal exploitation of the people and resources of the Congo and other African countries.

In conclusion, while the Berlin Conference did lead to some agreements among the European powers, these agreements were largely focused on the interests of the colonial powers and did not take into account the interests and rights of the African people. The legacy of colonialism and the division of Africa that resulted from the conference continue to shape the political and economic landscape of Africa today.