Armed Neutrality

Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Armed Neutrality


in international law, a state of preparedness declared by a neutral power or group of neutral powers to defend its maritime trade on the sea from belligerent countries with the aid of armed forces (for instance, having neutral commercial ships convoyed by warships).

Russia was the first to advance the principle of armed neutrality, on Feb. 28 (Mar. 11), 1780, during the struggle of England’s North American colonies for their independence. Russia addressed to England, France, and Spain a declaration in which the aim of Russian policy was proclaimed to be the defense of Russian trade and that of other neutral countries from the violent acts of the English fleet in this war. In the declaration, the following basic positions were put forward, and they later became principles of armed neutrality: (1) neutral states have the right to trade with belligerents and also the right to navigate freely along the shores of belligerent powers; (2) enemy property found on a neutral ship is inviolable and cannot be seized by belligerents if it is not military contraband; (3) cargoes are recognized as military contraband only if they are directly intended for the conduct of military operations (arms, ammunition); and (4) a port is considered to be blockaded by a belligerent country only when entry into it presents a clear and effective threat from the blockading state’s warships stationed nearby (this principle demands that there be an actual blockade, not a “paper” one). The North American states recognized these principles, as did France and Spain. England, while officially rejecting the principles of armed neutrality, was compelled to take them into consideration.

The policy of armed neutrality undermined England’s monopoly power at sea and objectively aided the American people’s struggle for independence. The declaration on armed neutrality demonstrated the increasing significance of Russia in international affairs.

Russia later established the 1780 principles of armed neutrality as the basis for treaties of alliance with Denmark (July 9, 1780), Prussia (May 8, 1781), Austria (Oct. 9, 1781), Portugal (July 13, 1782), and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Feb. 10, 1783). In the 19th century, the principles of armed neutrality were extended and supplemented in the conclusion of the Russo-Prussian treaty (1800) on the formation of a so-called second armed neutrality for defense of neutral maritime trade; Denmark and Sweden also became parties to this treaty. England recognized these principles during the conclusion of the Declaration of Paris of Apr. 16, 1856, on war at sea.

Subsequently, the principles of armed neutrality. were reflected in the 11th and 13th Hague Conventions of 1907 (rules of seizure of neutral commercial ships) and in the Nyon Agreement and the London Protocol of 1937 concerning the struggle against piratical submarine attacks on commercial ships.

In the contemporary period, military-technical progress and the extension of the concept of military contraband have weakened the significance of the principles of armed neutrality.


Mezhdunarodnoe pravo. Moscow, 1964.
Istoriia diplomatii, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Colonel Stewart, who accompanied Nelson, said that the population of Copenhagen showed him a mixture of 'admiration, curiosity and displeasure: After much discussion and a threat by Nelson to bombard Copenhagen itself if necessary an agreement was signed on April 9th and Armed Neutrality was suspended.
policy had undergone "a steady drift into a deep gray stage in which the precise difference between war and peace is impossible to discern." Consistent with the concept of formal but armed neutrality, Berle rejected the thought that the President's policy meant that war was inevitable.
He remained committed to his belief that armed neutrality would achieve American aims.
World War II defined the notion of armed neutrality into the popular saying that Switzerland did not have an army, but was an army.
Her exemplary spirit of "armed neutrality" has kept her out of wars and intrigues, even free from terrorism.
There is the silence of the fool who knows not what to say, that of armed neutrality, and that of grief and fear, etc.
It will only ever be a state of armed neutrality. Let's face it, that is better than what we've had for the last 20 years.
Now Stephen Halbrook, an attorney and well-known Second Amendment expert (he's the author of 1984's That Every Man Be Armed), has taken a much-needed look at the Swiss wartime record in a new book titled Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II.
Only then does the author turn to explore the reasons for the monarchs entry into the German war, his military fortunes up to the Peace of Lubeck (1629), and his posture of armed neutrality for the remainder of the conflict.
This was a crucial function of the League of Armed Neutrality of 1780, in which Russia aligned with the northern neutrals (the United Provinces, Denmark, and Sweden) in trying to evade privateers and British prohibitions through the use of armed convoys.
The other two works are "The Single Individual," and Armed Neutrality. Sixteen contributions discuss these writings, addressing themes such as the paradox of divine and human agencies, complex ways to religious simplicity, modern governance, author-activity as an existential expression of neighbor-love, indirect communication, and reading Kierkegaard as a drama, among other topics.
The government contends that, with its readiness concept, multi-functionality and modularity, Army XXI is structured to meet these demands, while adhering to the militia principle and armed neutrality stipulated in the Swiss Constitution.