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Ch.3 The Duties and Rights of Neutrals

From: Neutrality in Contemporary International Law

James Upcher

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 19 June 2024

Armed conflict — Belligerence — Belligerents — Conduct of hostilities — Neutrality and non-alignment

This chapter looks at the rights and duties of neutrality that result from the creation of the status of neutrality, in an effort to understand the contemporary content of neutrality. State practice in the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries indicates that the ambit of a number of these duties is unclear. For example, the duty of abstention, which may be said to occupy a fundamental place in the law of neutrality, has been constantly violated because its contours are quite unclear. The prohibition on the sale of military material, although referred to by States in numerous international armed conflicts, suffers from definitional uncertainties and a lack of clarity regarding the scope of the duty. Similarly, this is so with regard to the prohibition on economic assistance to a belligerent. Other aspects of the content of the law of neutrality have not adapted to developments in international law with regard to the law on the use of force and the law of the sea. Therefore, while the law of neutrality continues to be expressed in concrete rights and duties rather than principles, examination of a number of those rights and duties demonstrates that many of them are no longer adequate to the contemporary legal environment.

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