The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

PART VI
THE SO-CALLED LAW OF NEUTRALITY

CHAPTER XXXI
THE NATURE, HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT, AND THE CHARACTERISTICS OR FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF NEUTRALITY

445. Definition and Nature of Neutrality. -- Neutrality has been well defined as "the condition of those States which in time of war take no part in the contest, but continue pacific intercourse with the belligerents."1 It consists in the total abstention2 from or absolute prohibition of certain acts (such as the sale of warships or the fitting and sending out of military expeditions3 to aid either belligerent), as well as the observance of a strict impartiality in all cases where indirect assistance or support is still permissible (such as coaling or repair of belligerent warships in neutral ports). It also involves the acquiescence in or tolerance of certain acts (such as the exercise of the rights of visit and search) by the belligerents.

446. Historical Development of Neutrality. -- The Law of Neutrality can scarcely be said to have existed in anything like its modern form prior to the close of the eighteenth century.4 The theory of neutral rights and obligations was

____________________
1
Lawrence ( 7th ed.), 582. For various definitions of neutrality, see 4 Calvo, § 2491; and 8 P.-Fodéré, No. 3224.
2
"Neutrality does not consist in the mere impartial treatment of opposing belligerents, but in the entire abstinence from any direct assistance of either party in his warfare." Walker, Science, etc., 374.
3
In such cases a State is bound to use "due diligence" or the "means at its disposal" for the prevention of these acts.
4
The very idea of neutrality as a principle of public law or conduct appears to have been almost unknown to the nations of Antiquity and the peoples of the Middle Ages, at least prior to the publication of the Consolato del Mare in 1494; though, as Westlake (II, 1st ed., 161) observes, "the fact of neutrality" must be as old as war itself.

Even Grotius devotes only one short chapter (lib. III, cap. 17) to those whom he calls medii. The gist of his impracticable doctrine is contained in a single sentence: "It is the duty of those who stand apart from a war to do

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