Belligerent

Belligerent

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A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat
Combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war". Unlike the colloquial use of belligerent to mean aggressive, its formal use does not necessarily imply that the belligerent country is an aggressor.

In times of war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

, belligerent countries can be contrasted with neutral countries
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 and non-belligerent
Non-belligerent
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...

s. However, the application of the laws of war
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

 to neutral countries and the responsibilities of belligerents are not affected by any distinction between neutral countries, neutral powers or non-belligerents. A non-belligerent may nevertheless risk being considered a belligerent if it aids or supports a belligerent in a way proscribed by neutral countries.

An interesting use of the term arose during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, when the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

, though not recognized as a sovereign state, was recognized as a belligerent power, and thus Confederate warships were given the same rights as United States warships in foreign ports.

Belligerency


Belligerency is a term used in international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 to indicate the status of two or more entities, generally sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 states, being engaged in a war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

. Wars are often fought with one or both parties to a conflict invoking the right to self defence under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

, (as did the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in 1982 before the start of the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

) or under the auspices of a United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 resolution (such as the United Nations Security Council Resolution 678
United Nations Security Council Resolution 678
United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, adopted on November 29, 1990, after reaffirming resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674 and 677 , the Council noted that despite all the United Nations efforts, Iraq continued to defy the Security Council.-Details:The Council,...

 which gave legal authorization for the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

).

A state of belligerency may also exist between one or more sovereign states on one side, and rebel forces, if such rebel forces are recognised as belligerents. If there is a rebellion against a constituted authority (for example an authority recognised as such by the United Nations) and those taking part in the rebellion are not recognised as belligerents then the rebellion is an insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

.
  • The Qualifications of Belligerents
  • Prisoners of War
  • The Sick and Wounded


Once the status of belligerency is established between two or more states, their relations are determined and governed by the laws of war.