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The General Act of the Berlin Conference on West Africa

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Introduction

The aim of this paper is to analyze the General Act of the Berlin Conference on West Africa (1884-1885) and the partition of Africa among the main European powers, considering its importance for the construction of Europe. The Conference of Berlin was the culmination of a process that began with the presence of European traders in the costal areas of West Africa. The relations between Europe and Africa developed during the age of slave trade and were transformed on the 19th century. The Conference initiated the process of formal colonization, which lasted until the 1960s and had great consequences for both continents.

The main aspects that are analyzed about the document are, on one hand, how the international relations between the European nations affected the partition of Africa, and how are they manifested on the General Act. To understand the importance of the Conference, it is necessary to consider that the European powers were concerned with taking forward the colonial enterprise without entering any armed conflict among them. This process will be analyzed in the light of the concept of "armed peace". On the other hand, the main provisions of the Conference, which regard the free commerce in the basins of the Niger and the Congo, define the "effective occupation" as the criteria for the colonization of new areas and confirm the prohibition of slave trade, are analyzed taking into account their main consequences for the p...

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