The New International Encyclopædia/African International Association
AFRICAN IN′TERNA′TIONAL ASSO′CIA′TION. In 1876 the King of Belgium called a conference at Brussels of geographers and explorers to consider means for the opening up of Africa to civilization, and there the African International Association was formed, with the object of establishing stations for scientific purposes in Eastern Africa. When H. M. Stanley in 1877 revealed the magnitude and importance of the fertile Congo basin, a second conference was assembled at Brussels, at which the African International Association made plans which extended its field of operation over the newly explored territory. But the greed of the different nations, awakened by the dazzling territorial and commercial prospects the Congo basin afforded, brought about endless disputes, until at length it was decided, by the mutual consent of all the great powers, including the United States, to leave the final adjustment of the difficulties to an international conference in Berlin. The conference opened at Berlin, November 17, 1884, with Prince Bismarck in the chair, and ended its labors February 26, 1885. Fifteen States were represented. As a result of mutual compromises, it was declared that the immense regions forming the basin of the Congo River and its tributaries shall be neutral territory, that perfectly free trade shall exist there, that citizens of any country may undertake every species of transportation within its limits, that the powers exercising sovereign rights over neighboring territory are forbidden to exercise monopolies or favors of any kind in regard to trade, and that they shall bind themselves to suppress slavery. The King of Belgium was made sovereign of the new State. See Africa; Congo Free State; Stanley, H. M.