Foreign relations of Zambia

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After independence in 1964 the foreign relations of Zambia were mostly focused on supporting liberation movements in other countries in Southern Africa, such as the African National Congress and SWAPO. During the Cold War Zambia was a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Zambia is a member of 44 international organizations, with the United Nations, World Trade Organization, African Union and Southern African Development Community being among the most notable.

Zambia is involved in a border dispute concerning the convergence of the boundaries of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. An additional dispute with the Democratic Republic of Congo concerns the Lunchinda-Pweto Enclave.


Kenneth Kaunda visiting communist Romania's dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, in 1970.
Kuanda talking privately with U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the White House in 1978
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and President of Zambia Levy Mwanawasa meet in New York City during the 59th UN General Assembly.

After independence in 1964, Zambia was one of the most vocal opponents to white minority rule and colonialism. President Kenneth Kaunda, who held office 1964–1991, was a very visible advocate of change in Southern Africa. He actively supported UNITA during the Angolan liberation and civil war, SWAPO during their fight for Namibian independence from apartheid South Africa, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and the African National Congress in their fight against apartheid in South Africa.[1]

Many of these organizations were based in Zambia during the 1970s and 1980s. For this reason South Africa as well as Rhodesia carried out military raids on targets inside Zambia. Zambia's support for the various liberation movements also caused problems for the Zambian economy, since it was heavily dependent on electricity supply and transportation through South Africa and Rhodesia. However these problems was partly solved by the Kariba Dam and the construction of the Chinese supported Tan-Zam railway.

For their part in the liberations struggles, Zambia enjoys wide popularity among the countries they supported as well as all over Africa. For instance, former South African president Nelson Mandela often referred to the debt South Africa owes Zambia.[2]

Before Zambian independence, Kaunda met with John F Kennedy while visiting the United States in 1961, and he would meet with Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush at the White House during his long presidency.[3] He also clashed with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on several occasions, disliking her policy towards South Africa.

As with most African states, Zambia was a member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, and is still today. In practice Zambia was more to the left than to the right during the Cold War. The country had good relations with the People's Republic of China and with Yugoslavia. Kaunda is famous in Yugoslavia for crying openly at president Josip Broz Tito's funeral.

Kaunda's successor, president Frederick Chiluba (1991–2002), also played an important role in African politics. His government played a constructive regional role sponsoring Angola peace talks that led to the 1994 Lusaka Protocols. Zambia has provided troops to UN peacekeeping initiatives in Mozambique, Rwanda, Angola, and Sierra Leone. Zambia was the first African state to cooperate with the International Tribunal investigation of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

In 1998, Zambia took the lead in efforts to establish a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Zambia was active in the Congolese peace effort after the signing of a cease-fire agreement in Lusaka in July and August 1999, although activity diminished considerably after the Joint Military Commission tasked with implementing the ceasefire relocated to Kinshasa in September 2001.

International organizations[edit]

Zambia is a member of 44 different international organisations. These are:[4]

Concerning Zambia's membership in the ICC, Zambia has a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the United States military from prosecution.

United Nations[edit]

Zambia joined the United Nations on 1 December 1964,[5] only a month after the nation had become independent. Zambia has a permanent mission to the UN, with headquarters on 237 East 52nd Street, New York City. The head of the mission is Tens Chisola Kapoma.

International Monetary Fund managing director Rodrigo Rato meeting with the Republic of Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa.

African cooperation[edit]

Zambia is a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union, and was its chairman until July 2002. Zambia also takes part in the unions economical cooperation, the African Economic Community (AEC). Among th AEC's different pillars, Zambia takes part in two; Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the preferential trade area Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The country is also a member of the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA).

SADC was founded in Zambia's capital Lusaka on 1 April 1980, and COMESA has its headquarters there as well.

International disputes[edit]

A dormant dispute remains where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe's boundaries converge; and with the DRC in the Lunchinda-Pweto Enclave in the North of Chienge following concerns on the Zambia-Congo Delimitation Treaty raised with the late President Laurent Kabila. The lack of demarcation beacons, and the citizenship rights of people in that enclave remain thorny issues, especially in Luapula Province.

Zambia and the Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

Zambia has been a Commonwealth republic since 24 October 1964, when Northern Rhodesia became independent.

Bilateral relations[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 1993

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1993.[6]

  • The Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe is accredited to Zambia as Australian High Commissioner. He is assisted by an Honorary Consul in Lusaka.[7]
  • Zambia has a High Commission in Canberra.[8]
  • Both countries are full members of Commonwealth of Nations.
 China See China–Zambia relations

Both countries have diplomatic relations and cooperate in various fields.[9]

 Croatia 20 September 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 20 September 1995.[10]

  • Cyprus is accredited to Zambia from its high commission in Pretoria, South Africa[11] and an honorary consulate in Lusaka.[12]
  • Zambia is accredited to Cyprus from its embassy in Rome, Italy[13] and an honorary consulate in Limassol.[14]
  • Both countries have a bilateral agreement on Air Service between both countries.[15]
  • Both countries are full members of Commonwealth of Nations.
 Denmark See Denmark-Zambia relations
 Finland 8 March 1968
 Georgia 14 October 1993

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 14 October 1993.

  • Greece is accredited to Zambia from its embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe and an honorary consulate in Lusaka.[18]
  • Zambia is accredited to Greece from its embassy in London, United Kingdom.[19]
 Guyana 11 February 1971
 India See India-Zambia relations
 Ireland 1965 See Ireland–Zambia relations
  • Ireland has an embassy in Lusaka.[25]
  • Zambia is accredited to Ireland from its high commission in London[26]

Both countries have a number of bilateral agreements in force.[27]

 Japan October 1964

Both countries established diplomatic relations in October 1964.[28]

 Lithuania 13 July 2001

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 13 July 2001.[29]

 Mexico 15 October 1975
  • Mexico is accredited to Zambia from its embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • Zambia is accredited to Mexico from its embassy in Washington, D.C., United States.[30]
 Montenegro 29 June 2010

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 29 June 2010.[31]

 New Zealand
 Romania 28 May 1968

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 28 May 1968.[33][34]

 Russia 1964 See Russia–Zambia relations
  • Russia has an embassy in Lusaka.
  • Zambia has an embassy in Moscow.
 Serbia 1964

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1964.[35] Both countries have passed a number of bilateral agreements.[36]

 South Africa See South Africa–Zambia relations

Zambia was a strong supporter of the African National Congress during their struggle against minority rule and hosted the ANC for a number of years. In 2009, nearly 52% of all goods imported to Zambia were from South Africa.

 South Korea

High-level Exchanges: May 1991 Special Envoy Chung Won-shik; October 1994 Special Envoy Hong Soon-young; May 1995 Special Envoy Kim Hang-kyung; May 2010 Economic Mission Kim Jung-hoon (The Republic of Korea-Zambia business Forum).[37]

  • Since 2011, Turkey has an embassy in Lusaka.[38]
  • Since 2013, Zambia has an embassy in Ankara.[39]
 United States See United States–Zambia relations

Zambia, led by president Kenneth Kaunda and other diplomats such as Vernon Mwaanga, Mark Chona, and Siteke Mwale, cooperated closely with the United States between 1975 and 1984 in order to promote peaceful solutions to the conflicts in Angola, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and Namibia.[40]

  • United States has an embassy in Lusaka.
  • Zambia has an embassy in Washington, D.C..
 Vietnam 15 September 1972

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 September 1972.[41][42]

 Zimbabwe See Zambia–Zimbabwe relations
  • From 1953 to 1963 Zambia and Zimbabwe were, along with Nyasaland (now Malawi) part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.[43]
  • Initially the two countries had good relations after gaining independence. However, relations have recently been strained. Following the controversial Zimbabwean presidential election of 2008, the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa described Mugabe's Zimbabwe as a "regional embarrassment".[44]
  • The former foreign affairs minister, Kabinga Mpande, once said Zambia had lodged a protest against Zimbabwe, against the "sustained malicious campaign against Zambia."[45] But relations have improved tremendously with the election of Michael Sata as President of Zambia. It was reported in the Zambian media that Zambia was pushing for the readmission of Zimbabwe into the British led Commonwealth of Nations

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andy DeRoche, Kenneth Kaunda, the United States and Southern Africa (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).
  2. ^ "Kenneth Kaunda: A life in power". BBC. 26 June 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2006.
  3. ^ Andy DeRoche, Kenneth Kaunda, the United States and Southern Africa (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).
  4. ^ "The World Factbook – Zambia". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 1 November 2004. Retrieved 11 May 2004.
  5. ^ "List of Member States". United Nations. Archived from the original on 22 October 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2006.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ [6]
  12. ^ [7]
  13. ^ [8]
  14. ^ [9]
  15. ^ [10]
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^
  18. ^ [11]
  19. ^ [12]
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Indian High Commission in Lusaka
  22. ^ Indian mission in Zambia
  23. ^ Zambian Embassy in India
  24. ^ Zambian Embassy in India contact info
  25. ^ Irish embassy in Lusaka Archived 2 August 2012 at
  26. ^ Zambian high commission in London
  27. ^ [13]
  28. ^ [14]
  29. ^ [15]
  30. ^ Embassy of Zambia in the United States
  31. ^ [16]
  32. ^ [17]
  33. ^ [18]
  34. ^ [19]
  35. ^ [20]
  36. ^ [21]
  37. ^
  38. ^ [22]
  39. ^ [23]
  40. ^ Andy DeRoche, Kenneth Kaunda, the United States and Southern Africa (London: Bloomsbury, 2016)
  41. ^ [24]
  42. ^ [25]
  43. ^ Africa Today Friends, neighbors, and former enemies: the evolution of Zambia-Zimbabwe relations in a changing regional context.(Southern Africa in the Postapartheid Era) by Scarritt, James R. ; Nkiwane, Solomon M.; published 01-JAN-96
  44. ^ "Zimbabwe's neighbours", BBC, June 2008
  45. ^ Zambia protests against Zimbabwe