chapter  26
20 Pages

Neutrality revisited

WithElizabeth Chadwick

To understand the operation of laws of armed conflict one should first comprehend the context of, and crucial role played by, rules of armed neutrality.1 Prior to 1945, when inter-state force was prohibited in UN Charter Article 2(4),2 policies of armed neutrality permitted a state which had no particular interest in a war occurring elsewhere to abstain from the hostilities and remain ‘neutral’.3 Not only that, but largely for strategic reasons, states were positively encouraged to confine themselves to neutral attitudes and avoid intervention in the conflicts of others. Neutral states remained at peace with each other, while their neutrality as regards the belligerents’ conflict could be protected by complying with three essential rules: neutral states did not (1) favour either belligerent,4 (2) engage in any warlike acts themselves and (3) allow neutral territory to be used by the belligerents.5 Not surprisingly, as neutral states remained sources of trade and

1 A policy of ‘armed neutrality’ on the outbreak of war between two or more states is distinct from a stance of permanent neutrality (a legal obligation), or the neutrality maintained by humanitarian NGOs and UN peacekeeping units. Michael Bothe, ‘The Law of Neutrality’ in Dieter Fleck (ed), The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (3rd edn, OUP 2013) 549. See also Hersh Lauterpacht, ‘Neutrality and Collective Security’ in Elihu Lauterpacht (ed), Collected Papers: Volume 5 – Settlement of Disputes, War and Neutrality (CUP 2004) 611; Philip C Jessup and Francis Deak, Neutrality: Its History, Economics and Law (4 vols, Columbia University Press 1935-1936).