The Qualified Prohibition on Third-State Assistance to Parties in Armed Conflicts: Illuminating the Myth, Interpreting the Reality
36 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017
Date Written: September 29, 2017
There are two doctrines in international law that, together, form a legal firewall against third-State intervention in armed conflict: the law of neutrality, which imposes neutrality during international armed conflict and its corollary during non-international armed conflict, the principle of non-intervention. This paper aims at shedding light on how both doctrines operate in practice and how theoretical uncertainties potentially influence their application. In particular, the paper explains that a status of non-belligerency has no foundation in international law, clarifies the relationship between neutrality law and the UN Charter and argues that the principle of non-intervention does not hamper assistance upon request of a government embroiled in a non-interventional armed conflict. After having illuminated the myth, the paper focuses on reality by looking at State practice in respect or in violation of the law of neutrality and the principle of non-intervention, highlighting that even apparent violations do not always mean that the doctrine as such is no longer valid. Finally, the paper compares and contrasts both legal doctrines, arguing that the legal firewall against intervention in armed conflict is still standing.
Keywords: International and non-international armed conflicts; the law of neutrality; the principle of non-intervention
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