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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 is non-existent in international law.[1]

A non-belligerent state differs from a neutral one in that it may be supporting certain belligerents in a war but with the exception of not being directly involved in military operations. The term may also be used to describe a person not involved in combat or aggression, especially in a situation where combat or aggression is likely. Thus 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.

List of Non-Belligerents during warEdit

United States of AmericaEdit

A notable example of non-belligerent in an environment of total war was the American 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 which saw 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 President Roosevelt formally declared war on Japan following the attacks on Pearl harbor.


From September 1939 until June 1940, when it joined the war with Germany and again after late 1943, when it quietly adopted a formal state of neutrality.[1]


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

Other ExamplesEdit

Sweden's stance during the Winter War, the Soviet assault on Finland in 1939.

The political stances of the United States and Peru during the Falklands War and that of The Netherlands during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was described by politicians as "political support, but no military support."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Payne, Stanley G. (2008). Franco and Hitler. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12282-4. 

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