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§ 120. Definition Neutrality is the relation which exists between states which take no part in the war and the belligerents. Impartial treatment of the belligerents is not necessarily neutrality. The modern idea of neutrality demands an entire absence of participation, direct or indirect, however impartial it may be.
§ 121. Forms of Neutrality and of Neutralization
The first form of neutrality is what was formerly known as perfect neutrality, in distinction from imperfect neutrality, which allowed a state to give to one of the belligerents such aid as it might have promised by treaty entered into before and without reference to the war. At the present time the only neutrality that is recognized is perfect, i.e. an entire absence of partici
pation in the war. A second form of neutrality is commonly known as armed neutrality. This implies the existence of an understanding, on the part of some of the states not parties to the contest, in accordance with which they will resist by force certain acts which a belligerent may claim the right to perform. The armed neutralities of Feb. 28, 1780, and of Dec. 16, 1800, defended the principle of “ free ships, free goods.” 1
Neutralization is an act by which, through a conventional agreement, the subject of the act is deprived of belligerent capacity to a specified extent. Neutralization may apply in various ways.
(1) Neutralized states are bound to refrain from offensive hostilities, and in consequence cannot make agreements which may demand such action. Thus it was recognized that Belgium itself, a neutralized state, could not guarantee the neutrality of Luxemburg in the Treaty of London, in 1867. Belgium is, however, a party to the Treaty of Berlin of 1885, agreeing to respect the neutrality of the Congo State. This agreement “to respect” does not carry with it the obligation to defend the neutrality of the Congo State.
The important instances of neutralization are those agreed upon by European powers. By the declaration signed at Vienna, March 20, 1815, the powers (Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia) “acknowledged that the general interest demands that the Helvetic States should enjoy the benefits of perpetual neutrality,” and declared " that as soon as the Helvetic Diet should accede to the stipulations” prescribed, her neutrality should be guaranteed. The Swiss Confederation acceded on the 27th of May, 1815, and the guaranteeing powers gave their acknowledgment on the 20th of November, 1815.2 The powers also guaranteed the neutrality of a part of Savoy at the same time. The neutralization of Belgium is provided for by Article VII. of the Treaty of London, of Nov. 15, 1831, “ Belgium, within the limits specified in Articles I., II., and IV., shall form an independent and perpetually Neutral State. It shall be bound to observe such Neutrality towards all other States.”3
1 Lawrence, p 566.
(2) A portion of a state may be the subject of an act of neutralization, as in the case of the islands of Corfu and Paxo by the Treaty of London, of March 29, 1864. By Article II., “ The Courts of Great Britain, France, and Russia, in their character of Guaranteeing Powers of Greece declare, with the assent of the Courts of Austria and Prussia, that the Islands of Corfu and Paxo, as well as their Dependencies, shall, after their Union to the Hellenic Kingdom, enjoy the advantages of perpetual Neutrality. His Majesty the King of the Hellenes engages, on his part, to maintain such Neutrality.” 4
(3) The neutralization of certain routes of commere has often been the subject of convention. The Line States guaranteed the “perfect neutrality "5 O Lee means of trans-isthmian transit when the State ">
11 Hertslet, 64.
2 Ibid., 370 ; see also “La Neutralité de Suisse, ** Dir II., 636.
32 Hertslet, 863.