Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Neutrality Definition:

A state's declared impartiality and non-interference in the declared or de facto war of other states.

Related Terms: War

According to the 1928 Convention on Maritime Neutrality (entered into force in 1931):

"(N)eutrality is the juridical situation of states which do not take part in the hostilities, and that it creates rights and imposes obligations of impartiality....

"The neutral state is forbidden ... (a) To deliver to the belligerent, directly or indirectly, or for any reason whatever, ships of war, munitions or any other war material; (b) To grant it loans, or to open credits for it during the duration of war."

Oppenheim defined neutrality as follows:

"... the attitude of impartiality adopted by third states towards belligerents and recognized by belligerents, such attitudes creating rights and duties between the impartial states and belligerents."

Switzerland and, more recently, Austria, have professed neutrality in perpetuity.1


  • Convention on Maritime Neutrality, entered into force Jan. 21, 1931 [retrieved from  the University of Minnesota website, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/1928b.htm, on June 23, 2011]
  • NOTE 1: re Austria, Memorandum signed at Moscow, Russia on April 15, 1955.
  • Oppenheim, L.,  International Law, A Treatise, 7th Ed., §293 (1952)
  • Taubenfeld, Howard, International Actions and Neutrality, 47 AJIL 377 (1953)

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