Brussels Conference Act of 1890

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Brussels Conference Act of 1890

The Brussels Conference Act of 1890 (full title: Convention Relative to the Slave Trade and Importation into Africa of Firearms, Ammunition, and Spiritous Liquors)[1] was a collection of anti-slavery measures signed in Brussels on 2 July 1890 (and which entered into force on 31 August 1891) to, as the act itself puts it, "put an end to Negro Slave Trade by land as well as by sea, and to improve the moral and material conditions of existence of the native races".

The negotiations for this act arose out of the Brussels Anti-Slavery Conference 1889–90.[2] The act was specifically applicable to those countries "who have possessions or Protectorates in the conventional basin of the Congo", to the Ottoman Empire and other powers or parts who were involved in slave trade in East African coast, Indian Ocean and other areas.

For example, Article 21 describes the zone in which measures should be taken, referring to "the coasts of Indian Ocean (including the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea), the Belouchistan up to Tangalane (Quilimane)... " and Madagascar. The Act provided for the establishment of a relevant International Bureau in Zanzibar.

In Art. 68:

"the Powers recognize the high value of the Law on the prohibition of Slave Trafficking of blacks, issued by His Majesty The Emperor of the Ottomans on 4–16 Dec. 1889, and are assured that a surveillance action will be taken by the Ottoman authorities, especially in the western part of Arabia and on the routes that keep that coast in communication with other possessions of His Imperial Majesty in Asia."

Similar actions were called on to be taken by the Shah of Persia and the Sultan of Zanzibar (Art. 69, 70).[3] The participants also agreed to stop sales of guns and other weapons to Africans.[4]


The parties to the agreement were:[5]


The Brussels Act was supplemented and revised by the Convention of Saint-Germain-en-Laye signed by the Allied Powers of the First World War on 10 September 1919.[7]

Because of its provisions on alcohol, the Act is considered the first treaties on the control of psychoactive substances (preceding the first opium treaty from 1909).[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bassiouni, M. Cherif (1987). A Draft International Criminal Code and Draft Statute for an International Criminal Tribunal (2nd ed.). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 405. ISBN 978-0-89838-918-0.
  2. ^ Brahm, Felix (2021). "Banning the sale of modern firearms in Africa: On the origins of the Brussels Conference Act of 1890". Journal of Modern European History. 19 (4): 436–447. doi:10.1177/16118944211051218. ISSN 1611-8944. S2CID 245007531.
  3. ^ George Young. Corps de Droit Ottoman. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1905, pp. 192–206.
  4. ^ G. N. Uziogwe, ‘European Partition and Conquest of Africa: An Overview’, in A. A. Boahen (ed.), General History of Africa, vol. vii, (Oxford, 1990), p. 22
  5. ^ "Slave trade and importation into Africa of firearms, ammunition and spiritous liquor" (PDF). Library of Congress.
  6. ^ Miguel, Madueño; Alberto, Guerrero (2023-03-28). Examining Colonial Wars and Their Impact on Contemporary Military History. IGI Global. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-1-6684-7042-8. Menelik had managed to become a part of the Brussels General Act of 1990 regulating the arms trade in Africa
  7. ^ "United States of America – Convention revising the General Act of Berlin, February 26, 1885, and of the General Act and the Declaration of Brussels, July 2, 1890, signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, September 10, 1919 [1922] LNTSer 19; 8 LNTS 27".
  8. ^ Pan, Lynn (1975). Alcool in Colonial Africa (PDF). Forssa: Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies.
  9. ^ Seddon, Toby (2016). "Inventing Drugs: A Genealogy of a Regulatory Concept". Journal of Law and Society. 43 (3): 393–415. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6478.2016.00760.x. ISSN 1467-6478. S2CID 151655016.

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