The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference or West Africa Conference, regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power. The conference was organized by Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of Germany. Its outcome, the General Act of the Berlin Conference, can be seen as the formalisation of the Scramble for Africa, but some scholars of history warn against an overemphasis of its role in the colonial partitioning of Africa and draw attention to bilateral agreements concluded before and after the conference. The conference contributed to ushering in a period of heightened colonial activity by European powers, which eliminated or overrode most existing forms of African autonomy and self-governance. Of the fourteen countries being represented, six of them – Austria-Hungary, Russia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden–Norway, and the United States – came home without any formal possessions in Africa.