As a phrase used in international conflict, neutrality is critical. A neutral nation does not support one side over the other if there is a conflict. Several nations could stay neutral when World War II broke out, unlike many countries now at war.
Articles V and XIII of the Hague Convention of 1907 set forth the broad neutrality principles. It is important to note that neutral countries must adhere to strict guidelines to maintain neutrality.
Still, in general, the belligerents—actively engaged in the conflict—must respect this stance to avoid losing any troops, prisoners, and supplies that enter a neutral country’s territory. Hague standards, however, are not followed by every government that claims to be neutral.
A few nations have constitutions or past treaties that designate them permanently neutral, but most countries declare neutrality only when conflict breaks out. Indeed, a few countries that have always maintained their neutrality have no military.
According to international law, neutral nations that keep a military can abandon their neutrality to participate in a fight. After the assault on Pearl Harbor, the United States enlisted in World War II.
To put it another way, a neutral country does not fight but provides non-combative assistance to one or the other side—for example, by providing a given belligerent with food and ammo or permitting transit through territory that is otherwise off-limits to the opposing troops, for example.
Neutral Countries 2022:
|Country||Neutral since||Country||Neutral since|
Countries that were formerly neutral:
Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Tibet, Tonga, Turkey, the United States, Ukraine, and Ukraine have all attempted to remain neutral but were ultimately drawn into conflict despite their neutral intentions:
Profiles of neutral countries:
Switzerland and Finland
Switzerland has maintained neutrality since 1815, even throughout World War II, making it one of the most well-known countries. A large military is still maintained by Switzerland today to prevent an attack.
The country follows a policy of armed neutrality, although one exception is the Swiss Guard, which is responsible for protecting the pope and most of Vatican City.
Japan and Ireland
Because Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, Ireland’s neutrality is under dispute. As long as Ireland isn’t at war with Russia, the EU’s member states will defend the island’s interests in the event of an invasion.
The Japanese people eternally reject war as a sovereign prerogative of the nation and the threat or use of force to resolve international conflicts; as stated in the country’s constitution, when natural catastrophes like the tsunami of 2010 strike, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces step in to assist the nation in recover.
Liechtenstein and Sweden
Since 1868, the tiny country of Liechtenstein, nestled between neutral Austria and Switzerland, has lacked permanent armed forces. Throughout World War II and until now, the nation has maintained its neutrality.
1834 saw the declaration of neutrality by the Swedish government. Because it permitted Nazi forces to cross its borders into Finland and provided refuge to Jews fleeing persecution by the Nazis, Sweden’s neutrality was questioned during World War II.
Also See: NATO Spending by Country 2022
NATO was permitted to conduct military operations on Swedish soil in 2016.
Vatican City and Turkmenistan
Every year on December 12, 1995, Turkmenistan marks the anniversary of the country’s declaration of neutrality. A resolution assured the neutrality of the United Nations. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 acknowledged Vatican City as an autonomous and sovereign state.
The city-state (placed fully inside the Italian capital of Rome) committed to staying neutral in all foreign affairs in return for Italian President Benito Mussolini signing the treaty, which gave Vatican City its independence.
|Country||Neutral Since||Notes||2022 Population|
|Austria||1955||Neutrality written into constitution||8939.6170|
|Costa Rica||1949||Neutrality made national law in 2014||5180.8290|
|Finland||1956||Historically neutral, but not coded into law||5540.7450|
|Ireland||1939||Complicated. Neutral, but not coded into law and country is more flexible than most neutral states||5023.1090|
|Japan||1947||Post-WWII constitutional amendment forbids country from participating in war||123951.6920|
|Liechtenstein||1868||No military since 1868||39.3270|
|Malta||1980||Neutrality adopted after 1980 treaty with Italy, added to constitution in 1987||533.2860|
|Mexico||1945||Neutrality questioned, has been ignored at times since 2000||127504.1250|
|Moldova||1994||Neutrality written into constitution||3272.9960|
|Monaco||1945||Neutrality not coded into law, but attempted to remain neutral in WWII||36.4690|
|Mongolia||2015||Neutrality announced abruptly during United Nations speech||3398.3660|
|Panama||1989||Neutrality adopted as part of treaty||4408.5810|
|Rwanda||2009||Neutrality announced upon membership in Commonwealth of Nations||13776.6980|
|San Marino||1945||Neutral since 1815 except for WWII, when it declared war on occupier Germany||33.6600|
|Serbia||2007||Adopted armed neutrality. Serbia is only former Yugoslavia state not attempting to join NATO||7221.3650|
|Singapore||1965||Joined Non-Aligned Movement in 1970||5975.6890|
|Sweden||1919||First declared neutrality in 1814 (first in world) but lost it to Finnish civil war in 1918. Has been flexible at times.||10549.3470|
|Switzerland||1815||Neutrality is self-imposed, permanent, and guaranteed by Austria, France, U.K., Russia, & more. However, levied sanctions on Russia during 2022 Ukraine invasion||8740.4720|
|Turkmenistan||1995||Neutrality written into constitution||6430.7700|
|Uzbekistan||2012||Neutrality coded into law||34627.6520|
|Vatican City||1929||Neutrality established in treaty that defined relation with Italy||0.5100|