1st Edition

International Law and the History of Resource Extraction in Africa Capital Accumulation and Underdevelopment, 1450-1918

By George Forji Amin Copyright 2023

    This book investigates the historical economic and legal regimes that legitimated the resource extraction and exploitation of Africa between the 15th and 19th centuries and led to the continent’s trajectory of underdevelopment in the world system.

    The book interrogates the economic and legal structures that supported European intervention in Africa. It explores the trade and private property rights which were to shape the economic future of the continent, most notably the trade in human beings as legitimate private property by European powers. The book then looks at the techniques used to submerge African sovereignty under European sovereignty during the scramble for territorial control in the 19th century, concluding with the validation of occupation in international law following the 1884-85 Berlin Conference. The book argues that the doctrines of trade and property rights sanctioned by international law led to a trend of African dispossession that set the continent on a path to underdevelopment, with long-reaching consequences.

    This book will be of interest to researchers and students across law, history, economics, international relations, and African studies.

    1. The Third World and Nature of World Order
    2. From Latin America to Africa: Primitive Accumulation, the Modality of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Incorporation into the World Order
    3. People as Property: Atlantic Slave Trade, International Law and the Making of the New World
    4. Industrial Capitalism, Concepts of Improvement, and the Civilizing Mission Metaphor in Africa
    5. The Scramble for Africa: Non-State Actors and Acquisitions by Cession Treaties
    6. Public Law Arrangements: The Pursuit for Free Trade, the Berlin Conference 1884-85 and the Partition of Africa
    7. General Concluding Remarks


    George Forji Amin is a Teaching Fellow at the School of Law, University of Manchester and an Affiliated Research Fellow at the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC), UK.

    "This is an interesting book, and one of only a few to offer a historical approach to the study of Africa and the international legal order. George Forji Amin explores the complicity of international law in the economic stagnation of the continent by way of a historical account of resource extraction that draws from themes such as Third World approaches, postcolonialism, imperialism, property rights, historical materialism and slavery. [...] The book offers a rare example of how to paint a bigger picture, bringing together the role of international law, its processes and intellectual uses in Africa. It is a most welcome contribution." 

    P. Sean Morris, University of Helsinki, Finland, for International Affairs 100: 3, 2024