The most notable outcomes of the Berlin Conference in 1884 and 1885 are Articles 34 and 35 of the Berlin Act. These articles address the possession and occupation of the coasts and hinterlands of Africa.Continue Reading
The Berlin Conference was headed by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Initially convened to address the humanitarian issues that were brought about due to the slave trade, it preoccupied itself with the greater issues of the possession and occupation of a land that was abundant in resources and strategically important.
Article 34 of the Berlin Act introduces the doctrine of the “spheres of influence.” Any European country claiming possession of African coastline had to inform the other nations of its intentions. Otherwise, the claim would not be recognized. The "sphere of influence" also granted the claimant possession of the hinterlands. Article 35 of the Berlin Act addressed the occupation of Africa by introducing the doctrine of "effective occupation." This doctrine required the occupying nation to prove that it had the ability to protect existing interests.
The division of Africa through the implementation of international 'rules' made the conquest and exploitation of Africa less bloody and minimized the potential for violent disputes and war between European nations. However, it never included or considered the indigenous peoples or governments in its discussions of sovereignty.Learn more about Modern Europe
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