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of a friendly state (“ d'un État ami,” “ eines befreundeten Staates "), yet this follows immediately:
The German Empire is, on its part, ready to recognize the frontiers of the territory of the association and of the new state to be created (du nouvel Etat a créer, des zu errichtenden Staates) as they are indicated upon the annexed map.
While the conference collectively deliberated, each of the powers (with the exception of Turkey), acting by itself through its representatives at Berlin, recognized the Congo Association, Great Britain being the first after Germany (December 16), followed by Italy (December 19), Austria (December 24), the Netherlands (December 27), and Spain (January 7, 1885). France signed a treaty of limits after a long correspondence (February 5), as did Portugal (February 14). The other powers then followed in recognition in the following order: Russia (February 5), Norway and Sweden (February 14), Denmark (February 23), and finally Belgium (February 23) on the last day of the conference, when the Final Act was signed. It is to be noted that as an expression of the opinions then held by the recognizing governments as to the existing régime upon the Congo each reserved consular jurisdiction.
Following this several recognition, the International Association of the Congo was introduced to the conference as adhering to the terms of the General Act. This introduction came by way of a letter from President Strauch in which he called attention to the accession of a power (“l'avènement d'un pouvoir ") which had for its single mission the introduction of civilization and commerce into central Africa. Addresses of congratulation by the various representatives followed. In them may be further seen the theory held as to the origin of the State. Baron de Courcel, for France, referred to it as a state“ territorially constituted to-day with exact limits.” Sir Edward Malet expressed the satisfaction with which his Government witnessed the founding of this new State.
“ We salute the new-born State.” Count van der Straten Ponthoz spoke for Belgium: " Thanks to the conference the existence of the new State is henceforth assured.” In the same vein was Bismarck's greeting. “I believe,” said he, “ that I express the views of this conference when
I acknowledge with satisfaction the steps taken by the International
Doch gar zu sehr am greiflich Tüchtighaften.25 It is impossible within the limits of the present paper to enter into detail as to the results of the Berlin Conference as embodied in its General Act. The scope of the meeting was broader than Bismarck had originally suggested. Certain parts of the General Act refer particularly to the régime for the Congo, though nowhere is the Congo Association mentioned. The terms of the General Act are general and affect all territories with the so-called “conventional free-trade zone ” as defined by the act. That the conference applied its stipulations to a territory larger than the mere geographical basin of the Congo was due to the initiative of the American representatives. Mr. Kasson suggested that the "commercial basin ” of the Congo should be considered, rather than the geographical one. Stanley urged this plan, but was surprised to notice" a curious reluctance to speak, as if there was some grand scheme of state involved.” 26 A matter of policy was indeed involved, for by adopting the so-called “conventional zone ” of the Congo, all powers having territory within it were affected. The provisions of the General Act were thereby made to apply not only to Belgian and French Congo, but practically to all territory between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, from the Zambesi to 5° north latitude on the east, and from 2° 30' north latitude to 80° south latitude on the west. Within this territory there was to be absolute freedom of commerce. which exercised rights of sovereignty within the zone was to grant
26 Faust, II, Act II.
privileges of any kind in commercial matters. The provided for the protection of the natives: All Powers exercising rights of sovereignty or an influence in the said indigenous
engage themselves to watch over the conservation of the
populations and the amelioration of their moral and material conditions of existence and to strive for the suppression of slavery and especially of the negro slave trade.
The right to erect religious edifices and to organize missions belonging to all forms of worship shall not be subjected to any restrictions or hindrance.
Furthermore, a basis for the neutralization of this conventional basin was adopted by the conference. The neutralization was, however, not compulsory or imposed upon the territories within the zone, but it was voluntary as to each colonial power, or, in other words, it was a system of facultative neutralization. The powers did not thereby assume to guarantee such neutrality, but only to respect it after any power had adopted the régime of neutralization. The adoption of the conventional zone, within which the terms of the General Act were to apply to all powers alike, was of decided advantage to Leopold, for it put the new State upon a footing of equality with other states. No more or greater obligation rested upon it than upon any other power having territorial interests within the zone. The recognition of the association was complete and unconditional. It was not half sovereign or dependent, but fully sovereign.
III. There remains to be considered Leopold's theory as to the existence of the Congo State. In the volume entitled “ Codes Congolais et Lois usuelles en vigeur au Congo," prepared in 1900 by M. Lycops, clerk to the Superior Council of the Congo Free State, the text of the Berlin General Act and that of the adhesion thereto by the Congo Association appear as the “preliminaries to the constitution of the State.” Following these are what M. Lycops calls the “ constitution” of the State. This “constitution” consists of a letter from Leopold to the Belgian Council of Ministers and the resolutions of the Belgian Chambers in reference thereto. In the communication Leopold's own theory of the status of his undertaking is seen. This was that the State had not yet been politically organized; i. e., that the State de facto did not even then exist.
The work created in Africa by the International Association of the Congo has had a great development. A new State has been founded, its limits have been determined, and its flag recognized by almost all the powers. There remains to be organized on the banks of the Congo its government and administration.
Leopold then asked that the Belgian Chambers give their consent, necessary under article 62 of the Belgian Constitution, 27 for him to assume the headship of the new State, preliminary to the organization of its government and administration.
King of the Belgians, I shall be at the same time sovereign of another State. This State will be independent, like Belgium; and, like her, it will enjoy the benefits of neutrality.
The required assent of the Chambers quickly followed, with the proviso that “the union between Belgium and the new State shall be exclusively personal," that is, that the Congo was to be not an appanage of the King of the Belgians ex officio, but of Leopold personally. Of course this was not a constitution in the ordinary acceptation of that term. It was merely the basis upon which the governmental machinery might be organized or constituted. Leopold was not a “constitutional ” sovereign, in the sense that his powers were limited by any fundamental law of the State. Unless limited by the terms of the Berlin Act, he became August 1, 1885, the absolute sovereign, or autocrat, of the Congo, controlling absolutely, in theory at least, the inhabitants within the limits marked by the various treaties of delimitation. “The possessions of the International Association of the Congo form henceforth the Independent State of the Congo,” Leopold informed the powers in the summer of 1885. At the same time the new State, which by a reversal of the usual order had organized a government after it had been recognized as a state, declared itself perpetually neutral, according to the terms of the Berlin Act. This, as has been suggested, was in no sense a limitation of the State's sovereignty. Nor was any provision of the General Act such a limitation upon sovereignty. The Congo Free State (properly the Independent Congo State, the change of name signifying the change in status), in adhering to the terms of the General Act and in declaring itself neutral, bound itself in no respect
27 ABT. 62. The King can not be at the same time chief of another state without the consent of the two Chambers. Neither Chamber can deliberate upon this question unless two-thirds of its members are present, and the resolution shall not be adopted except by a two-thirds vote of each House.
differently than did any state signing the act. It agreed to lay no import duties,
to look after the welfare of the natives, to encourage missions,
to create no commercial monopolies. So did every other state signing the act. There was no method under the act by which violations of its terms might be enforced. No offending state could be coerced. All of the signatories were sovereign. In such a case, rupture of diplomatic relations, if another state felt itself aggrieved, a new conference, if there was substantial agreement among the signatory powers as to the serious infraction of the act, practically exhaust the remedies.
Freedom from import duties in the conventional zone, while making for commercial freedom, seriously handicapped the Congo Free State in its internal administration by cutting off a large and necessary source of income.
In 1890 the representatives of the powers again assembled, this time at Brussels.
The ostensible purpose of this meeting was to take further steps for the suppression of the slave trade. Before the Brussels Conference had progressed far, it developed that an attempt would be made to modify the onerous restrictions of the former act in reference to import duties. A provision for limited import duties was after long debate duly incorporated in the Brussels General Act, for the purpose of better enabling the Free State to wipe out the slave trade. In other respects the Berlin Act stands to-day. The impression has been general that the provisions of that act have been violated; that within late years, at least, the natives have been treated with no due regard for their “moral and material amelioration," such as the act prescribed. When charges of violation of the spirit of the Berlin Act were brought against the Congo Free State answer was made either by way of general denial or by a tu
quoque" argument, or else that if there had been some necessary disregard of the means of moral or of material regeneration, the State was within its right, as it was sovereign and independent; that as such sovereign and independent state it was the sole judge of the truth or falsity of the charges. Of course there were other answers, but these three groups comprise most of them. The force of public opinion, however, resulted in the appointment of a commission for the investigation of the charge: of maladministration. This commission reported upon certain grave