A non-belligerent is a person, a state, or other organization that does not fight in a given conflict. The term is often used to describe a country that does not take part militarily in a war. The status does not exist in international law.[1]

A non-belligerent state differs from a neutral one in that it may support certain belligerents in a war but is not directly involved in military operations. The term may also be used to describe a person not involved in combat or aggression, especially if combat or aggression is likely. In a situation of civil unrest such as a riot, civilians may be divided into belligerents, those actually fighting or intending to fight, and non-belligerents who are merely bystanders.



During World War II, Spain allowed and promoted the Spanish Blue Division of volunteers and conscripts to join the German forces on the condition that they would fight against the Soviet Union only and they would do it with German equipment and uniform. At the same time, allied aircraft made emergency landings in Spanish territories (Melilla, Mallorca) and the Spanish government returned the crews home safely. The aircraft were either scrapped due to poor condition or repaired and allocated in the Spanish Air Force if not reclaimed, or after a negotiated purchase.

United States

A notable example of non-belligerent in an environment of total war was the United States' economic support of the Allies in World War II, prior to their entry into the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The economic support given by the Americans was through the Lend-Lease Program in which the United States provide the United Kingdom "all possible assistance short of war" in the words of Winston Churchill, but they remained a non-belligerent state in the war until Congress formally declared war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor.


From September 1939 to June 1940, when it joined the war with Germany, Italy was a non-belligerent. [1]


Although officially Ireland declared itself neutral in World War II, it can be disputed whether it was a non-belligerent or not,[2] as The Cranborne Report drew up by the Viscount Cranborne to the British War Cabinet noted regarding Irish-British collaboration. An example of such collaboration was the permission for Allied use of Irish airspace for military means.


While Sweden did not officially participate in the Winter War, a new Flying regiment was formed out of volunteers to aid Finland and took charge of defending Finnish Lapland; the aircraft for the regiment came directly from Swedish Air Force inventory.


The Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan denies the right of belligerence of states, in order to accomplish "international peace based on justice and order".[3]

Netherlands and Peru

Along with the US, the political stance of Peru during the Falklands War and that of the Netherlands during the 2003 invasion of Iraq was described by politicians as "political support, but no military support".[1][permanent dead link]

See also


  1. ^ a b Payne, Stanley G. (2008). Franco and Hitler. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12282-4.
  2. ^ Keeping Britain sweet: Irish wartime neutrality, political identity and collective memory
  3. ^ Constitution of Japan, Article 9, section 2

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