The Berlin Conference and Its Consequences

Sarah Xu Senior Division Individual Website

One of the first things that came to my mind when I thought of rights and responsibilities was imperialism, which is indisputably one of the worst violations of human rights. At the time, I knew close to nothing about imperialism, other than it was the conquest of other civilizations and involved depriving the conquered of basic rights. I considered regions of the world I was not familiar with, and I narrowed down my choices to Latin America and Africa. After much contemplation, I decided to use Africa, specifically the Berlin Conference, as my NHD topic. I chose the Berlin Conference because I knew enough about imperialism to see that the Berlin Conference was a symbol of the start of the conquest of Africa. Once my AP World History teacher gave me permission to use the Berlin Conference as my topic, I began conducting my research. I began with finding some useful databases such as ABC Clio and a 19th century newspaper archive. Once I found a few databases, I began reading summaries of generally what happened during the Berlin Conference and the decades prior to and after 1884. When I stumbled across the atrocities Leopold II committed in the Congo Free State, I was intrigued. I analyzed the statistics, read the testimonies, saw the photos, and I knew then and there that Leopold embodied the very worst aspects of imperialism and the conquest of Africa. I used the genocide as the base of my thesis, and I continued to research the Berlin Conference, imperialism and its legacy, and Leopold II. After conducting most of my research, I sketched out my website. I made a rough model with all of the pages and subpages I would have, the information and sources on each page, etc. Once I had my basic model done, I recreated the model on Weebly and put in my pictures, my primary source documents, and my titles for each section. Once the basic model was complete, I began inserting text into each of the pages. When I finished inserting text, all that was left was to

make the website attractive aesthetically. I found some videos and music for my pages and I cut them down to 45 seconds or less. After some revisions (rearranging, adding, deleting, etc.), I was finished. The Berlin Conference and Leopold’s control of the Congo Free State truly represent abuses of rights and responsibilities. The Europeans in the Berlin Conference had no right to take away the rights of others, as outlined in the Human Rights declaration by the U.N. Leopold, especially, violated numerous human rights. The colonial powers also had various responsibilities, which many of them failed to fulfill. Leopold abused his power, his authority, his rights, and failed to fulfill his responsibilities to the Congolese people. The Berlin Conference is an archetypal example of imperialism and the price that the indigenous peoples of the colonies had to pay.

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