Neutrality is the condition of those states, which in times of war take no part in the contest but continue pacific intercourse with the belligerent

Neutrality is the condition of those states, which in times of war take no part in the contest but continue pacific intercourse with the belligerent. Discuss

1 Preface

Theoretically, being neutral or neutrality means not taking any sides whenever there is any issue or problems between two or more parties. For example, if two persons argue on a specific issue, the third person will not take any side or a position. Like that, if there is any war between two countries and another country or countries will not take any of the countries’ side then it will call neutrality in times of war. For instance, there is a cold war between India and China but USA does not take any side or position.

Basically the foundations of the international law of neutrality are customary inter-national law and, for certain questions, international treaties, in particular the Paris Declaration of 1856, the 1907 Hague Convention No. V respecting the Rights, Duties of Neutral Powers, and Persons in Case of War on Land, the 1907 Hague Convention No. XIII concerning the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War, the four 1949 Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I of 1977.

2 Background

Neutrality Acts were first passed by the United States of America in response to the growing disorder in Europe and Asia that eventually led to World War II. In this 1930 neutrality act in war it made no distinction between aggressor and victim, treating both equally as “belligerents” to the USA. In 1935 neutrality act, it obliged a general restriction on trading in arms and war materials with all parties in a war. In 1936 Act, it forbade loans to the belligerents in the time of war. In neutrality acts of 1937, a new term joint in act which is cash-and carry. Under this, President could permit the sale of materials and supplies to belligerents in Europe as long as the recipients arranged for the transport and paid immediately in cash. In 1939 act, allowing for arms trade with belligerent nations on a cash-and-carry basis and neutrality Acts of 1935 and 1937 were repealed.

3 Duties of Neutral States in the war

3.1 Policy and instructions

The neutral State must take measures to ensure and enforce the protection of its neutrality in the neutral space for which it is responsible in relation to the belligerent parties and in particular their armed forces. To obtain neutral status, the State does not have to make a formal declaration, nor do other States or parties formally have to recognize such status. A formal declaration will only have the effect of making neutral status better known. The armed forces of the neutral State also require clear instructions on how they are to operate in relation to the defense of their territory and in dealing with incursions. For isolated and accidental violations of neutral space, the instructions might include the need to issue warnings or give a demonstration of force. For increasingly numerous and serious violations, a general warning might be called for and the use of force stepped up.

3.2 Particular obligations

The neutral State must ensure respect for its neutrality, if necessary using force to repel any violation of its territory. Violations include failure to respect the prohibitions placed on belligerent parties with regard to certain activities in neutral territory. The fact that a neutral State uses force to repel attempts to violate its neutrality cannot be regarded as a hostile act. If the neutral State defends its neutrality, it must however respect the limits which international law imposes on the use of force. The neutral State must treat the opposing belligerent States impartially. This obligation does not mean that a State is bound to treat the belligerents in exactly the same way. It entails a prohibition on discrimination. That is it forbids only differential treatment of the belligerents, which in view of the specific problem of armed conflict is not justified. Therefore, a neutral State is not obliged to eliminate differences in commercial relations between itself and each of the parties to the conflict at the time of the outbreak of the armed conflict. It is entitled to continue existing commercial relations. A change in these commercial relationships could however, constitute taking sides inconsistent with the status of neutrality. A neutral State must never assist a party to the armed conflict, in particular, it must not supply warships, ammunition or other war materials directly or indirectly to a belligerent power, but otherwise its trade with the belligerent States remains unaffected.

For example, According to a newspaper article the federal government has granted 180000 francs to the Afghan National Army, which are to flow into a NATO fund. The Head of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the University of Zurich, Professor Albert A. Stahel, and National Councilor Josef Lang (GP) have rejected this type of financial assistance by Switzerland for reasons of neutrality law. Instead, they demand that Switzerland uses its forces for the launch of a peace initiative in Afghanistan, which is suffering under war and corruption.[1]

4 Dealing with belligerent armed forces[2]

Neutral States receiving troops belonging to the belligerent armies on their territory must intern them. It would be a violation of the duty of non-participation if the neutral State permitted such troops to take part again in hostilities.

4.1 Hot pursuit into neutral territory

It is generally accepted that if belligerent forces enter neutral territory and the neutral authority is unable or unwilling to expel or intern them, the adverse party is entitled to undertake their hot pursuit and attack them there. It may even seek compensation from the neutral State for this breach of neutrality. The mere presence of belligerent forces does not justify hot pursuit; there must be some failure by the neutral State to uphold its neutrality.

Equipment of military

Military equipment taken from belligerent internees also has to be kept by the neutral State until the end of hostilities.

4.2 Treatment of belligerent armed forces

Although the law does not explicitly deal with the subject, you would be on safe ground to apply the general rules on retaining such persons:

• if you need them to tend to the medical or spiritual needs of other interned members of the belligerent armed forces, retain them for as long as their services are required;

4.3 • If you do not need them for that

The passage of humanitarian assistance through neutral territory to the victims of the conflict in the belligerent States does not constitute a hostile act in violation of neutrality. The only criterion applying to humanitarian assistance for the victims of conflict is need.

4.4 Railway materials

Railway material coming into a belligerent State from a neutral State or into a neutral State from a belligerent State must not be used or requisitioned. It may only be used or requisitioned in cases of absolute necessity and then only for as long as necessary before being sent back to the country of origin. It makes no difference if the railway material belongs to the State or to a private company or individual. If material is used, then compensation based on usage and the period of use must be paid to the other party.

4.5 Sea

This concerns chiefly the armed forces of a neutral State which might be involved in port operations. Although passage through neutral waters is permitted, neither the port facilities nor the waters may be used as a basis for war like operations.

Warships of the belligerent parties may be admitted into a neutral port for repair, to revictual to peacetime standards or to refuel to the extent necessary to enable them to reach the nearest home port. Their stay must not exceed twenty-four hours except in case of damage or stress of weather. A maximum of three vessels of one belligerent are allowed in port at any one time. If two belligerents have vessels in the same port they must depart at different times, i.e. 24 hours apart.

Medical ships of the belligerent parties are not subject to the restrictions imposed on warships in neutral ports.

4.6 Air

These concerns chiefly those involved with air defense or airfield security duties.

Military aircraft of the belligerent parties are excluded from neutral air-space just as belligerent ground forces are excluded from neutral territory. If they break this rule, they can be ordered to land and be impounded. If they fail to respond to warnings to land, they can be forced down or destroyed by anti-aircraft missiles or air attack. In emergency situations, a belligerent aircraft may have to land in neutral territory. The pilot should signal his plight using the normal emergency radio signal procedure. In such cases, the neutral State must allow the aircraft to land. The pilots and crew must be interned until the end of hostilities, and the aircraft impounded.

Medical aircraft may fly over neutral air space and even stop over but only by previous notification and agreement. Aircraft flying without agreement should make every effort to identify them. They will be ordered to land and inspected. If the inspection shows that they are being used for non-medical purposes, the aircraft can be impounded and the crew detained. If they were on a legitimate medical mission, they should be allowed to continue with appropriate notifications and clearances given to your own forces. If they fail to respond to the order to land, they can be attacked, but you should allow enough time for them to comply with the order.

According to Chang, “The legal limit on military detention is ‘enemy,’ a concept that has been defined in the law of neutrality.”

5 Findings

After analyzing all the information about neutrality in the war, it can be said that neutrality act helps country to maintain good relationship with belligerent countries. By following the rules of neutrality, country can separate its territory or its position. It helps the country not to make any dispute with any of the belligerents. The law makes the neutral country impartial to any of the belligerents. In a war there is always some important issues for the belligerents like- air, water, railway, equipment, financial transactions. But, being a neutral country, country can avoid these important issues by not communicating any of the terms with the belligerents. By maintaining all the rules of neutrality a neutral country can maintain peace with the belligerent countries. Because, belligerent country know that this country is neutral so we need not bother with this country, which establish peace with the neutral country.

Excerpt from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Quarantine Speech,” October 5, 1937, “…….let no one imagine that America will escape, that America may expect mercy, that this Western hemisphere will not be attacked and that it will continue tranquilly and peacefully to carry on the ethics and the arts of civilization…”

6 Conclusion

In conclusion, we can say that though neutral state or country cannot take part in a war, it maintain peace and good relationship with belligerents by taking no side and not helping any of the belligerents with providing equipment, permitting using its water path, providing manpower, giving money etc. Therefore, it can be said that neutral country continues good connection with the belligerent countries.

7 Bibliography

Delaney, D. G. (2004). Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03 12, 2013, from

Heller, K. J. (n.d.). Opinio Juris. Retrieved 03 11, 2013, from

Wüthrich, D. i. (2010, 3). Current Concerns. Retrieved 03 10, 2013, from