MODULE 2 – Five Fundamentals of Neutrality


The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 were international conferences held to formalize and ratify the rules of war.

Consider this one of the great lessons of history. While history often records that “The Great War” came as a shock to most, why formulate rules of war if no one suspected that was a consideration?

The agreements that came out of those conferences were among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the body of secular international law, structured primarily around nation-states as sovereigns. The two “Hague Conventions” govern the rights, duties, obligations and responsibilities of belligerents/combatants as well as neutrals during war.

Consider how well neutrality concepts held up over the ages, as exemplified in five fundamental precepts under the Principle of Neutrality.

R. A. Bauslaugh attests to the relative stability of the core components of neutrality over the centuries. “If we compare the substance of the nineteen specific articles of neutrality adopted at Hague compared with the evidence from the classical [Greek] period, the basic agreement is striking…”

  1. Neutral territory is inviolable and cannot be traversed or used by belligerents for military purposes; neutrals have an obligation to prevent such passage or use.
  2. Belligerents are not to recruit combatants in neutral territory; neutrals have an obligation to prevent such recruitment.
  3. Neutrals can allow the passage of individuals bound for belligerent states, the export of goods (even military) to belligerent states, the conduct of business by belligerents within their territory; but whatever is allowed to one belligerent must be allowed to the other.
  4. Defense of neutrality, even by force, cannot be regarded as an act of hostility.
  5. Individuals cannot take advantage of their neutrality to commit hostile acts against a belligerent without liability to severe punishment.”

As you go back to read through those again, consider that nations aren’t the only entities that have inviolable sovereign borders, and are certainly not the only entities that experience conflict.

How might these play as conventions in the framework of entities that are primarily cultural as opposed to political?  If you’ve ever crossed a jurisdictional border, there are most often plenty of signs and protocols in place for ensuring safe crossing — or not crossing.

The Hague Conventions provided signs and protocols aplenty on the conduct of internationals, their borders and permissions en route.

In retrospect, some believed The Great War of 1914 to have been impossible. Others might suggest that the diligent preparation for war in the way of development of extensive rules and regulations was evidence enough of its inevitability, if not the outright intent to wage it. [3]

While establishing protocols for conflict may not forebear its occurrence, prevailing opinion then might have been that it couldn’t hurt to have a few good rules written down somewhere, just in case. The fundamental logic of a rule book for international conflict was simple and straightforward. It might happen, but a few good rules can prevent the complete breakdown of civilization and. even in war, prevent anarchy.

We’ll come back to this module as we examine the ways these can play out within and among the Sovereign Entities described in the Seven Keys to CultureNeutral® Framework.  You’ll be able to read separate posts on each article of neutrality discussed above, and how it can play out for you under a CultureNeutral® Framework.


Copyright © Robert D. Jones 2013 – All Rights Reserved

[1] Holger Afflerbach, David Stevenson. An Improbable War?: The Outbreak of World War I and European Political Culture before 1914. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2007. 380 S.

[2] The Concept of Neutrality in Classical Greece, Robert A. Bauslaugh, University of California Press (1991), p. 246-247

[3] Bryan Ganaway (Department of History, College of Charleston) H-Net Reviews:

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