Foreign relations of Zambia

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 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 19641991, 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 refers to the debt South Africa owes Zambia.[2]

Before Zambian independence, Kaunda met with John F Kennedy while visiting the USA 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 (19912002), 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

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

Zambia joined the United Nations on December 1, 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. 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

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).

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

International disputes

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

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

Relations by country






South Africa

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 1991 May Special Envoy Chung Won-shik 1994 October Special Envoy Hong Soon-young 1995 May Special Envoy Kim Hang-kyung 2010 May Economic Mission Kim Jung-hoon (The Republic of Korea-Zambia business Forum).[14]

United States

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.[15]


See also


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