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International Association of the Congo

Coordinates: 2°52′48″S 23°39′22″E / 2.88°S 23.656°E / -2.88; 23.656

The International Association of the Congo (French: Association internationale du Congo), also known as the International Congo Society, was an association founded on 17 November 1879 by Leopold II of Belgium to further his interests in the Congo.[1][dubious ] It replaced the Belgian Comité d'Études du Haut-Congo [fr] ("Committee for the Study of the Upper Congo"),[2] which was part of the International African Association front organisation created for the exploration of the Congo. The goals of the International Congo Society was to establish control of the Congo Basin and to exploit its economic resources.[3] The Berlin Conference recognised the society as sovereign over the territories it controlled and on August 1, 1885, i.e. four and half months after the closure of the Berlin Conference, King Leopold's Vice-Administrator General in the Congo, announced that the society and the territories it occupied were henceforth called "the Congo Free State".[4][5][6]

International Congo Society

Association internationale du Congo
Flag of Congo
Location of Congo
StatusProvisional government
Historical eraNew Imperialism
• Established
17 November 1879
• Flag recognised
10 April 1884
• Sovereignty recognised
8 November 1884
• Free state established
1 July 1885
ISO 3166 codeCG
Preceded by
Succeeded by
International African Association
Kingdom of Kongo
Congo Free State

Ownership and controlEdit

The official stockholders of the Committee for the Study of the Upper Congo were Dutch and British businessmen and a Belgian banker who was holding shares on behalf of Leopold. Colonel Maximilien Strauch, president of the committee, was a henchman of Leopold. It was not made clear to Henry Morton Stanley, who signed a five-year contract to establish bases in the Congo in 1878, whether he was working for the International African Association, the Committee for Study of the Upper Congo, or Leopold himself. Stanley's European employee contracts forbade disclosure of the true nature of their work.[7]

Berlin ConferenceEdit

The Berlin Conference or Congo Conference of 1884–85 regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa. King Leopold II was able to convince the powers at the conference that common trade in Africa was in the best interests of all countries.[8][self-published source] The General Act of the conference divided Africa between the main powers of Europe[9] and confirmed the territory controlled by the Congo Society as its private property, which essentially made it the property of Leopold II.[10]

On 10 April 1884 the United States Senate authorised President Chester A. Arthur "to recognize the flag of the AIC as the equal of that of an allied government".[11] On 8 November 1884 Germany recognised the sovereignty of the society over the Congo.[12]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Association Internationale du Congo". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 March 2007.
  2. ^ Memo from Belgium. 1978. p. 210.
  3. ^ Rorison, Sean (20 July 2012). Congo: Democratic Republic - Republic. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 63. ISBN 9781841623917.
  4. ^ Cornelis, S. (1991). "Stanley au service de Léopold II: La fondation de l'Etat Indépendant du Congo (1878-1885)". In Cornelis, S. (Ed.), H.M. Stanley: Explorateur au service du Roi. pp. 41-60. Tervuren: Royal Museum for Central Africa.: 53–54.
  5. ^ Simmonds, R. (6 December 2012). Legal problems arising from the United Nations military operations in the Congo. Springer. p. 26. ISBN 9789401192675.
  6. ^ Katzenellenbogen, S. (1996). "It didn't happen at Berlin: Politics, economics and ignorance in the setting of Africa's colonial boundaries". In Nugent, P. and Asiwaju, A. I. (Eds.), African boundaries: Barriers, conduits and opportunities. pp. 21-34. London: Pinter.
  7. ^ Hochschild, Adam (13 May 2011). King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Pan Macmillan. p. 81. ISBN 9780330469944.
  8. ^ V, Dom Pedro (22 December 2011). The Quantum Vision of Simon Kimbangu: Kintuadi in 3D. Xlibris Corporation. p. 128. ISBN 9781469140360.
  9. ^ Ndahinda, Felix Mukwiza (27 April 2011). Indigenousness in Africa: A Contested Legal Framework for Empowerment of 'Marginalized' Communities. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 304. ISBN 9789067046091.
  10. ^ Pinder, Kymberly N. (2002). Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History. Psychology Press. p. 237. ISBN 9780415927604.
  11. ^ Förster, Stig; Mommsen, Wolfgang Justin; Robinson, Ronald Edward (1988). Bismarck, Europe and Africa: The Berlin Africa Conference 1884-1885 and the Onset of Partition. Oxford University Press [for] German Historical Institute. p. 240. ISBN 9780199205004.
  12. ^ Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges (18 July 2013). The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People's History. Zed Books Ltd. p. 29. ISBN 9781780329406.