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How International Law Allows for Exploitation of Former Colonies

Decades have passed since the formal colonization of Africa has ended. Neo-colonialism still cripples the continent of Africa in the form of exploitation, and international law is the backbone of this exploitation. International law, which is the standard and principles which govern the relationships among nations, individuals, and international organizations, is formatted in a way that allows for Africa, its citizens, and its resources to be taken advantage of. A recent showcasing of this is: as the Russian-Ukrainian war wages on, both sides’ attentions have shifted towards Africa as they ponder methods on funding their war.

Centuries ago, the scramble for Africa left the continent divided up amongst European powers with no regard for the native population. This occurrence set a precedent for how Africa would be treated when it comes to international law. International law, which should have the best interest of all nations and maintain rules that protect international relations, has never benefited Africa. Cession and protectorate treaties were developed by global powers at the time to divide Africa, only taking into account their best interests. As the continent was divided up, it marked a new era of international law as something corrupt.

International law is rooted in corruption and upholding empires in everything but name. With the dehumanization of Africans, global powers have made it easy to exclude their best interests in international relations. Subsequent to the end of many formal empires, many treaties and pacts were created with the intention to undermine the political and economic sovereignty of African states. As African nations gained independence, their former colonial authorities created treaties, pacts, and used other manifestations of international law in order to still control their former colonies in everything but name. International organizations such as the United Nations, do help to maintain global peace, however this worldwide peace is a facade as the global south continues to suffer while imperialist nations thrive. The War on Terror is an example of international law failing Middle Eastern and African people. The United States has started this war and used it as an excuse to undermine the sovereignty of these nations along with finding ways to promote its corporations’ interests. Domineering nations can directly and instill coups to “protect human rights.” However, when they remove one dictator, they put in another dictator who also abuses human rights but keeps the best interest of foreign entities in mind. International law also facilitates corporations from imperialist nations exploiting Africa and its people. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (supported by the United Nations) allows for large foreign corporations to take land in Africa.

International law has also negatively affected many other states across the world including many Asian countries in the global south, however, a focus is placed on the continent of Africa because of the immense scale in which corruption of these laws occurs. Along with the corruption of international law, the dehumanization of African people allowed for those who created these laws and principles to justify their actions. For example, five imperialist nations are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and thus have additional power than weaker nations. The sovereignty of “lesser” nations is dependent upon validation from imperialist nations and resolutions concerning global relations can be vetoed by these nations.

Many nations use diplomatic laws and create free trade agreements partnering with resource-rich countries in Africa. On the surface level, these agreements are seen as equally beneficial to both partners, however, the imperialist nation almost always has the better deal. British foreign policy allows for British mining companies to exploit resources in Africa with one-sided contracts. Africa is often criticized for the high occurrence of human right’s abuses; however, it is rarely acknowledged that these foreign countries play a large part in that by providing dangerous, underpaid jobs and using child labor. While the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on African countries, specifically the Central African Republic for violation of international humanitarian law, China faced virtually no international punishments for its gross abuses of human rights. International law has always been a tool for upholding empires and exercising neo-colonialism.




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