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Posted: October 22nd, 2023

What did President Woodrow Wilson’s speech, “The Fourteen Points” include?

What did President Woodrow Wilson’s speech, “The Fourteen Points” include? What was the Berlin Conference and what was its goal?

Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” speech of January 1918 outlined a post-World War I peace program and a vision for international cooperation. Some of the key points included: (Baker, 2020)
Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 was an international meeting aimed at regulating European colonization and trade in Africa during the Scramble for Africa period. (Johnson, 2021) Its general goal was to reach agreements on political and territorial issues in the African Great Lakes region and West Africa. Some of the key outcomes included:
The recognition of the Congo Free State under King Leopold II of Belgium.
The establishment of spheres of influence between European nations.
The suppression of the slave trade.
Freedom of commerce along the Congo River and Niger River.
The principle of effective occupation to validate colonial territorial claims over claims based on priority or proximity. (Johnson, 2021)
In conclusion, both the Fourteen Points speech and the Berlin Conference had significant impacts in shaping the post-World War I international order and the colonization of Africa, respectively. While the Fourteen Points outlined a vision for lasting peace, the Berlin Conference formalized the Scramble for Africa through its agreements on European spheres of influence.
Baker, D. (2020). Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points. Council on Foreign Relations, January 8. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/woodrow-wilsons-fourteen-points
Johnson, G. (2021). The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 and the scramble for Africa. ThoughtCo, August 25. https://www.thoughtco.com/berlin-conference-of-1884-1885-2360132

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