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Foreign relations of Zambia


Foreign relations of Zambia

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

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 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.


  • History 1
  • International organizations 2
    • United Nations 2.1
    • IMF and World Bank 2.2
    • African cooperation 2.3
  • International disputes 3
  • Zambia and the Commonwealth of Nations 4
  • Relations by country 5
    • Botswana 5.1
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo 5.2
    • Denmark 5.3
    • Finland 5.4
    • Ireland 5.5
    • Mozambique 5.6
    • Namibia 5.7
    • Pakistan 5.8
    • Russia 5.9
    • South Africa 5.10
    • Tanzania 5.11
    • United States 5.12
    • Zimbabwe 5.13
  • See also 6
  • References 7


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 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.

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.[1]

During his presidency, Kaunda met with John F Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. 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 (politics) than to the Right (politics) 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

Zambia is a member of 44 different international organisations. These are:[2]

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,[3] 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.

IMF and World Bank

African cooperation

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 headquartered 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


Democratic Republic of the Congo


  • Denmark have an embassy in Lusaka.[4]
  • Zambia is represented in Denmark, through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.[5]


  • Start date: 1968-03-08
  • Finland recognised Zambia on October 29, 1964.
  • Zambia is represented in Finland through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Finland has an embassy in Lusaka.
  • Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland about Zambia


  • Start date--> 1965
  • Ireland has an embassy in Lusaka.[6]
  • Zambia is represented in Ireland through its high commission in London (United Kingdom)[7]





  • Start date: 1964
  • Russia has an embassy in Lusaka.
  • Zambia is represented in Russia by its embassy in Moscow.

South Africa

Zambia was a strong supporter of the African National Congress during the 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.


United States

  • The U.S. Embassy in Zambia is in Lusaka.
  • International Herald Tribune: "For the hungry in Zambia, U.S. law may hinder urgent food aid"


  • From 1953 to 1963 Zambia and Zimbabwe were, along with Nyasaland (now Malawi) part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.[8]
  • 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".[9]
  • The former foreign affairs minister, Kabinga Mpande, once said Zambia had lodged a protest against Zimbabwe, against the "sustained malicious campaign against Zambia." [10] 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


  1. ^ "Kenneth Kaunda: A life in power".  
  2. ^ "The World Factbook - Zambia".  
  3. ^ "List of Member States". United Nations. Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Irish embassy in Lusaka
  7. ^ Zambian high commission in London (also accredited to Ireland)
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "Zimbabwe's neighbours", BBC, June 2008
  10. ^ Zambia protests against Zimbabwe
  • "Permanent Mission of The Republic of Zambia to The United Nations". Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  • "Background Note: Zambia". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  • "Kenneth Kaunda: A life in power".  
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