a term used during World War II (1939–45) by certain countries that did not wish to bind themselves to any definite obligations in relation to the warring states.
The noncombatant states limited themselves to unilateral declarations of their formal nonparticipation in the war. In reality many of the noncombatant states were to some degree accomplices of an aggressor. For example, Spain issued a special governmental bulletin that declared the country a noncombatant state, even though it sent military units to the Soviet-German front to reinforce the armed forces of fascist Germany. Italy
considered itself a noncombatant state in 1939–40, taking advantage of those years to prepare for entry into the war on the side of Hitlerite Germany.