Neutral country

Neutral country

"For other uses of Neutral and Neutrality, see Neutral"
legend|#008000|neutral status recognized by constitution and international societylegend|#FF00FF|formerly neutral countriesA neutral country takes no side in a war between other parties. A neutralist policy aims at neutrality in case of an armed conflict that could involve the party in question. A "neutralist" is an advocate of neutrality in international affairs. The concept of "neutrality in conflicts" must be distinguished from that of non-alignment, i.e., the wilful desistence from military alliances in order to preserve neutrality in case of war, and perhaps with the hope of preventing a war altogether.

Concept and adherents

The concept of "neutrality in war" is narrowly defined and puts specific constraints on the neutral party in return for the internationally recognized right to remain neutral. A wider concept is that of non-belligerence. The basic international law covering neutral territories is the Second Hague Convention.

A country that reserves the right to become a belligerent if attacked by a party to the war is in a condition of armed neutrality.

Current neutral countries include:
*Austria (now a member of EU, see below) - neutral country since 1955, to maintain external independence and inviolability of borders (expressly modeled after the Swiss neutrality).
*Costa Rica - neutral country since 1949, after abolishing its military.
*Finland (now EU) - military doctrine of competent, "credible" independent defence, not depending on any outside support, and the desire to remain outside international conflicts.
*Ireland (now EU) - a traditional policy of military neutrality defined as non-membership of mutual defence alliances.
*Malta (now EU) - policy of neutrality since 1980, guaranteed in a treaty with Italy concluded in 1983
*Sweden (now EU) - Sweden hasn't fought a war since ending its involvement in the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 with a short war with Norway, making it the oldest neutral country in the world.
*Switzerland - self-imposed, permanent, and armed, designed to ensure external security. Switzerland is the second oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
*Turkmenistan - declared its permanent neutrality and had it formally recognised by the U.N.

Countries claimed to have neutrality but not recognized by international affairs
*Cambodia - claimed neutrality 1955-1970, 1993 to the present day
*Moldova - Article 11 of the 1994 Constitution proclaims "permanent neutrality"
*Serbia - Resolution of the National Assembly adopted on December 16 2007 stated that "due to the overall role of NATO, from the illegal bombing of Serbia in 1999 without Security Council resolution until the annex 11 of the rejected Ahtisaari's plan stipulating that NATO should be the 'final authority' in the 'independent state of Kosovo',National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia decided to declare armed neutrality in relation to the existing military alliances until eventual referendum when the final decision on that issue would be brought".

Past neutral countries include:
*Belgium - neutral stance since 1839, abolished through the Treaty of Versailles after WWI and abolished again after WWII, non-neutral alignment confirmed by membership of NATO.
*Laos - 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.
*Luxembourg - neutral stance since 1839, abolished through its constitution in 1948, non-neutral alignment confirmed by membership of NATO.
*Netherlands - self-imposed neutrality between 1839 and 1940 on the European continent. Now a NATO member.

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. 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.

Many countries made such declarations during World War II. Most, however, became occupied, and in the end only the states of Ireland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland (with Liechtenstein) 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. 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. 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 soldiers in Sweden. Spain also pursued a policy of "non-alignment" and sent a volunteer combat division to aid the Nazi war effort.

European Union Nations

The neutrality of some countries now in the European Union is under dispute, especially as the EU now operates a common foreign 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." [ European Parliament Debate (English Translation)]

A similar question relates to Ireland which hasn't described itself as being neutral for some decades. Instead Ireland has a traditional policy of military neutrality which is defined as the non-membership in military alliances. [ [ Oireachtas Written Answer, 19 June 2001] ] No definition of military neutrality ever uttered by the Irish government has ever made a commitment to non-participation in war. This is not the definition of neutrality but of non-alignment.

The vagueness of Irish non-alignment can be summed up by a quote from former Taoiseach Jack Lynch who once said that "We can make up our minds as to our neutrality in the light of circumstances prevailing". [ [ Speech by Avril Doyle MEP, 6 Dec 2001] ] Irish non-alignment is very confusing to the uninformed because on the one hand there is a constitutional prohibition on joining European Common Defence, which was inserted as part of the second Nice referendum. And yet on the other hand Ireland participates in the EU Battlegroups, and allows American transport planes to refuel in Shannon airport on their way to and from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Irish government has consistently voted against all private members bills recommending inserting a clear expression of neutrality in the constitution.


ee also

*Non-Aligned Movement
*Swedish neutrality during World War II
*Irish neutrality
*Switzerland during the World Wars

External links

* [ Second Hague Convention]
* [ Declaration for the Purpose of establishing Similar Rules of Neutrality, with Annexes]

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