Neutral country

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World map showing countries' degrees of neutrality prior of 2007:
  neutral countries
  disputed neutral countries
  historical neutral countries

A neutral country in a particular war is a sovereign state which officially declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5[1] and 13[2] of the Hague Convention of 1907. A permanently neutral power is a sovereign state which is bound by international treaty to be neutral towards the belligerents of all future wars. An example of a permanently neutral power is Switzerland. The concept of neutrality in war is narrowly defined and puts specific constraints on the neutral party in return for the internationally recognised right to remain neutral.

Neutralism or a "neutralist policy" is a foreign policy position wherein a state intends to remain neutral in future wars. A sovereign state that reserves the right to become a belligerent if attacked by a party to the war is in a condition of armed neutrality.

Rights and responsibilities of a neutral power[edit]

Belligerents may not invade neutral territory,[3] and a neutral power's resisting any such attempt does not compromise its neutrality.[4]

A neutral power must intern belligerent troops who reach its territory,[5] but not escaped prisoners of war.[6] Belligerent armies may not recruit neutral citizens,[7] but they may go abroad to enlist.[8] Belligerent armies' personnel and material may not be transported across neutral territory,[9] but the wounded may be.[10] A neutral power may supply communication facilities to belligerents,[11] but not war material,[12] although it need not prevent export of such material.[13]

Belligerent naval vessels may use neutral ports for a maximum of 24 hours, though neutrals may impose different restrictions.[14] Exceptions are to make repairs—only the minimum necessary to put back to sea[15]—or if an opposing belligerent's vessel is already in port, in which case it must have a 24-hour head start.[16] A prize ship captured by a belligerent in the territorial waters of a neutral power must be surrendered by the belligerent to the neutral, which must intern its crew.[17]

List of neutral states[edit]

Neutral countries[edit]

country neutrality period/starting year notes
 Costa Rica 1949– Is an observer in the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
Neutral since its military was dissolved in 1949.[18][19]
Ratified by law in 2014.[20]
 Liechtenstein 1868– Neutral because the military was dissolved in 1868.[21][22]
 Panama 1989- Is member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
The neutrality of the Panama Canal is enshrined by specific treaty.[23]
  Switzerland 1815– A OECD member since 1961.
Self-imposed, permanent, and armed, designed to ensure external security. Switzerland is the oldest neutral country in the world since 1815; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815. Although the European powers (Austria, France, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Spain and Sweden) agreed at the Congress of Vienna in May 1815 that Switzerland should be neutral, final ratification was delayed until after Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated so that some coalition forces could invade France via Swiss territory (see the minor campaigns of 1815 and the Act on the Neutrality of Switzerland signed on 20 November 1815 by the Great Powers).
 Turkmenistan 1995– Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
Declared its complete neutrality and had it formally recognized by the United Nations in 1995.[24]
  Vatican City 1929– The Lateran Treaty signed in 1929 with Italy imposed that "The Pope was pledged to perpetual neutrality in international relations and to abstention from mediation in a controversy unless specifically requested by all parties" thus making Vatican City neutral since then.

Note: Whether a state that is a member of the European Union may be considered neutral is a point of debate. This is discussed in the section below.

Neutral European Union members[edit]

country neutrality period/beginning year notes
 Austria 1920–1938 (after World War I to annexation by Germany)
1955–1995 (Declaration of Neutrality to EU membership)
A OECD member since 1961.
Maintains external independence and inviolability of borders (expressly modeled on the Swiss neutrality).
 Finland 1935–1939 (to Winter War)
1956–1995 (from return of Porkkala rental area to EU membership)
A OECD member since 1961.
 Ireland 1939–1973 (to EU membership)[25] A OECD member since 1961.
Established a policy of neutrality during World War II, known as the Emergency in Ireland. Was granted a special acknowledgement in the Seville Declarations on the Treaty of Nice due to its views on the use of force in International Politics.
 Malta 1980–2004 (to EU membership) Former member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Policy of neutrality since 1980, guaranteed in a treaty with Italy concluded in 1983.[citation needed]
 Sweden 1814–1918 (to Finnish Civil War)
1918–1995 (to EU membership)
A OECD member since 1961.

Claim to be neutral[edit]

country claimed neutrality period/beginning year notes
 Ghana 2012 Is a member of the African Union.
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
In August 2012, the Government of Ghana announced that due to the death of President John Atta Mills, the state implemented a closed-neutral policy.[citation needed]
 Japan 1947 A OECD member since 1964.
Constitutionally forbidden from participating in wars, but maintains heavily-armed self-defence forces and a military alliance
 Mexico 1930 A OECD member since 1994.
Is an observer in the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a former member of the Group of 77.
With the exception of its participation on the side of the Allies in World War II. Opened its borders in the 20th century to political refugees fleeing the military dictatorships of South America and Spain. Since 2000, Mexico ignored the neutrality policy under foreign secretaries Jorge G. Castañeda and Luis Ernesto Derbez. Whether historical neutrality is to be kept is now internally debated. The Mexican formulation of neutrality is known as Estrada doctrine.[26]
 Mongolia 1914–1918
2015
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
In During World War I, Mongolia has been wartime neutral country, and soon became belligerent countries of World War II. In September 2015, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in the 70th UN General Assembly speech suddenly announced that Mongolia will implement the "policy of permanent neutrality," and called on the international community to be recognized by all parties and support.[27]
 Moldova 1994 Article 11 of the 1994 Constitution proclaims "permanent neutrality".[citation needed]
 Rwanda 2009 Is a member of the African Union.
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda announced permanent neutrality in 2009 after joining the Commonwealth of Nations.[28]
 Serbia 2007-2017 Is an observer in the Non-Aligned Movement.
The National Assembly of Serbia declared armed neutrality in 2007.[29]
The country's neutrality may possibly change in the future if the country decides to join NATO or the CSTO, as its prime minister Aleksandar Vučić does not rule out the possibility of his country joining in the (non-near) future.[30]

Formerly neutral countries[edit]

country neutrality period notes
 Afghanistan 1914–1918 (neutral during World War I)
1939–1945 (neutral during World War II)
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
 Albania 1914–1918 (neutral during World War I)
1968 (attempted neutrality during the Prague Spring)
A NATO member since 2009.
 Belgium 1839–1914 (to World War I)
1936–1940 (to World War II)
A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949. Is a member of the European Union.
Neutral stance since 1839, abolished through the Treaty of Versailles after World War I (and again after World War II), proclaimed neutrality in October 1936 and severed 1921 alliance with France.
 Bhutan 1914–1918 (neutral during World War I)
1939–1945 (neutral during World War II)
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
In accordance with the Treaty of Punakha in 1910, Bhutan during World War II to deal with foreign relations powers to the United Kingdom, Bhutan became the de facto wartime neutral country.
 Cambodia 1955–1970 (to Vietnam War)
Is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
 China 1904–1905 (neutral during the Russo-Japanese War)
Is an observer in the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
 Denmark 1864–1940 (after Second Schleswig War to World War II) A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949. Is a member of the European Union.
 Estonia 1938–1939 (to World War II) A OECD member since 2010.
A NATO member since 2004. Is a member of the European Union.
Declared its neutrality 1938, but was thereafter forced to allow troops of the Soviet Union to enter in 1939 and was occupied by it 1940 in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
 Ethiopia 1914–1918 (neutral during World War I) Is a member of the African Union.
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
 Hungary 1956 (attempted neutrality during the Hungarian Revolution) A OECD member since 1996.
A NATO member since 1999. Is a member of the European Union.
 Iran 1914–1918 (neutral during World War I) Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
 Italy 1914–1915 (to World War I) A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949. Is a member of the European Union.
 Laos 1955-1975 (ostensibly neutral throughout the Vietnam War) Is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
The International Agreement on the Neutrality of Laos was signed in Geneva on July 23, 1962, by 14 nations, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. However throughout the Laotian Civil War, Laos was fighting the PAVN and Pathet Lao with the help of the United States among other anti-communist countries. Laos's neutrality can therefore be described as a "false neutrality".
 Latvia 1938–1939 (to World War II) A OECD member since 2016.
A NATO member since 2004. Is a member of the European Union.
Declared its neutrality 1938, but was thereafter forced to allow troops of the Soviet Union to enter in 1939 and was occupied by it 1940 in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
 Lithuania 1939 (to World War II) A NATO member since 2004. Is a member of the European Union.
Declared its neutrality 1939, but was thereafter forced to allow troops of the Soviet Union to enter in 1939 and was occupied by it 1940 in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
 Luxembourg 1839–1914 (to World War I)
1920–1940 (to World War II)
A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949. Is a member of the European Union.
Neutral stance since 1839, abolished through its constitution in 1948.
 Netherlands 1839–1940 (to World War II) A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949. Is a member of the European Union.
Self-imposed neutrality between 1839 and 1940 on the European continent.
 Norway 1814–1940 (to World War II) A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949.
 Philippines 2010 (attempted neutrality during the Manila hostage crisis) Is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Is a member of the Group of 77.
 Portugal 1932–1945 (neutral during World War II) A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949. Is a member of the European Union.
 Republic of Korea 1961–1964 (to Vietnam War)
A OECD member since 1996.
Is a former member of the Group of 77.
 Spain 1914–1918 (neutral during World War I)
1940–1945 (neutral during World War II)
A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1982. Is a member of the European Union.
 Turkey 1940–1945 (neutral during World War II) A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1952.
 United States 1914–1917 (to World War I)
1939–1941 (to World War II)
A OECD member since 1961.
A NATO member since 1949.
Pursuant to the non-interventionist policy set forth by George Washington, the U.S. declared its neutrality at the beginning of both world wars. However, it declared war on Germany during World War I in 1917 following the series of German U-Boat attacks on American merchant ships supplying war material to the Allies in the Atlantic Ocean and declared war on Japan in World War II in 1941 following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii.
 Ukraine 1990–2014 (to Ukrainian crisis) Is a former observer in the Non-Aligned Movement.
Ukraine's parliament voted to drop non-aligned status on December 23, 2014.[31]
In its Declaration of Sovereignty (1990), Ukraine declared it had the "intention of becoming a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs and adheres to three nuclear free principles" (art. 9). Neutrality was then enshrined in the 1996 Ukrainian Constitution, based upon the Declaration of Independence of August 24, 1991, containing the basic principles of non-coalition and future neutrality.[32] Such policy of state non-alignment was re-confirmed by law in 2010.[33]

Points of debate[edit]

European Union[edit]

The neutrality of some countries now in the European Union (Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta) is under dispute, especially as the EU now operates a Common Foreign and Security Policy. This view was supported by the Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, on 5 July 2006, while speaking to the European Parliament as Council President;

"Mr Pflüger described Finland as neutral. I must correct him on that: Finland is a member of the EU. We were at one time a politically neutral country, during the time of the Iron Curtain. Now we are a member of the Union, part of this community of values, which has a common policy and, moreover, a common foreign policy."[34]

Sweden has traditionally described itself as "Alliance-free with the intention of being neutral in any conflict". Since joining the European Union, Sweden has changed its stance and is now making strong hints that it will support other European Union members in case of a conflict in its vicinity.[citation needed]

Later, the 'solidarity clause' in the Lisbon Treaty was deemed sufficient to replace the Western European Union (WEU) military alliance's mutual defence clause (where an attack upon one state is deemed an attack on all, resulting in military support from other members). As a result, the WEU was closed down with its mutual defence role having been absorbed by the European Union.[35]

Irish neutrality is similarly debated; the state's "traditional policy of military neutrality" is not defined in law, and referendums on the Treaty of Nice and on the Treaty of Lisbon were lost in part because of fears these would undermine Irish neutrality.[citation needed]

Neutrality to forestall invasion[edit]

Other countries may be more active on the international stage, while emphasising an intention to remain neutral in case of war close to the country.[36] By such a declaration of intentions, the country hopes that all belligerents will count on the country's territory as off limits for the enemy, and hence unnecessary to waste resources on. The neutrality of Republic of Moldova is an interesting case. According to Ion Marandici, Moldova has chosen neutrality in order to avoid Russian security schemes and Russian military presence on its territory.[37] Even if the country is constitutionally neutral, some researchers argue that de facto this former Soviet republic never was neutral, because parts of the Russian 14th army are present at Bendery.[37] The same author suggests that one solution in order to avoid unnecessary contradictions and deepen at the same time the relations with NATO would be "to interpret the concept of permanent neutrality in a flexible manner".[37]

Many countries made such declarations during World War II. Most, however, became occupied, and in the end only the states of Andorra, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (with Liechtenstein), and Vatican (the Holy See) remained neutral of the European countries closest to the war. Their fulfilment to the letter of the rules of neutrality have been questioned: Ireland supplied some important secret information to the Allies; for instance, the date of D-Day was decided on the basis of incoming Atlantic weather information secretly supplied to them by Ireland but kept from Germany. Also, German pilots who crash landed in Ireland were interned, whereas their Allied counterparts usually went "missing" close to the border.[citation needed] Sweden and Switzerland, as embedded within Nazi Germany and its occupied territory, similarly made some concessions to Nazi requests as well as to Allied requests.[citation needed] Sweden was also involved in intelligence operations with the Allies, including listening stations in Sweden and espionage in Germany, as well as secret military training of Norwegian and Danish soldiers in Sweden.[citation needed] Spain also pursued a policy of "non-alignment" and sent a volunteer combat division to aid the Nazi war effort.[citation needed] Portugal officially stayed neutral, but actively supported both the Allies by providing overseas naval bases and Germany by keeping its war machine alight with the extensive sale of tungsten .

According to Edwin Reischauer, "To be neutral you must be ready to be highly militarized, like Switzerland or Sweden."[38] However, other countries—like Costa Rica—have claimed that having no army would strengthen their neutrality and democratic stability.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Second Hague Convention, Section 5
  2. ^ Second Hague Convention, Section 13
  3. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.1
  4. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.10
  5. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.11
  6. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.13
  7. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.4,5
  8. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.6
  9. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.2
  10. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.14
  11. ^ Hague Convention, §5 Art.8
  12. ^ Hague Convention, §13 Art.6
  13. ^ Hague Convention, §13 Art.7
  14. ^ Hague Convention, §13 Art.12
  15. ^ Hague Convention, §13 Art.14
  16. ^ Hague Convention, §13 Art.16
  17. ^ Hague Convention, §13 Art.3
  18. ^ "Costa Rica". World Desk Reference. Archived from the original on February 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  19. ^ El Espíritu del 48. "Abolición del Ejército". Retrieved 2008-03-09.  (Spanish)
  20. ^ Álvaro Murillo (El País). "Costa Rica prohíbe por ley participar en cualquier guerra". Retrieved 2008-03-09.  (Spanish)
  21. ^ "Background Note: Liechtenstein". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  22. ^ "Imagebroschuere_LP_e.indd" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  23. ^ TREATY CONCERNING THE PERMANENT NEUTRALITY AND OPERATION OF THE PANAMA CANAL
  24. ^ "A/RES/50/80; U.N. General Assembly". Retrieved 29 December 2009. 
  25. ^ Neutrality in the 21st century - Lessons for Serbia. ISAC Fond. 2013.
  26. ^ La Jornada (27 April 2007). "Adiós a la neutralidad - La Jornada". Jornada.unam.mx. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  27. ^ "Why Mongolia wants to "permanently neutral" can be authorized for an observation". Tencent News. 22 October 2015. 
  28. ^ "Rwanda becomes a member of the Commonwealth". BBC News. 29 November 2009. 
  29. ^ Enclosed by NATO, Serbia ponders next move AFP, 6 April 2009
  30. ^ http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/serbien/serbien-muss-so-schnell-wie-moeglich-in-die-eu-36365568.bild.html
  31. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30587924
  32. ^ "Ukraine's Neutrality: A Myth or Reality?". Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  33. ^ "Ukraine Parliament Ok's neutrality bill". Kyiv Post. Kiev, Ukraine. AP. 4 June 2010. 
  34. ^ Presentation of the programme of the Finnish presidency (debate) 5 July 2006, European Parliament Strasbourg
  35. ^ Statement of the Presidency of the Permanent Council of the WEU on behalf of the High Contracting Parties to the Modified Brussels Treaty – Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, Western European Union 31 March 2010
  36. ^ http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/how-blacksod-lighthouse-changed-the-course-of-the-second-world-war-30319681.html
  37. ^ a b c Marandici, Ion (2006). "Moldova's neutrality: what is at stake?" (MS Word). Lviv: IDIS-Viitorul and the Center for European Studies. 
  38. ^ Chapin, Emerson. "Edwin Reischauer, Diplomat and Scholar, Dies at 79," New York Times. September 2, 1990.
  39. ^ Military of Costa Rica Military of Costa Rica

External links[edit]