Declaration of war

A declaration of war is a formal act by which one state announces existing or impending war activity against another. The declaration is a performative speech act (or the signing of a document) by an authorized party of a national government, in order to create a state of war between two or more states.

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a declaration of war against Nazi Germany on December 11, 1941.

The legality of who is competent to declare war varies between nations and forms of government. In many nations, that power is given to the head of state or sovereign. In other cases, something short of a full declaration of war, such as a letter of marque or a covert operation, may authorise war-like acts by privateers or mercenaries. The official international protocol for declaring war was defined in the Hague Convention (III) of 1907 on the Opening of Hostilities.

Since 1945, developments in international law such as the United Nations Charter, which prohibits both the threat and the use of force in international conflicts, have made declarations of war largely obsolete in international relations,[1] though such declarations may have relevance within the domestic law of the belligerents or of neutral nations. The UN Security Council, under powers granted in articles 24 and 25, and Chapter VII of the Charter, may authorize collective action to maintain or enforce international peace and security. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter also states that: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right to individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a state."[2]

Few nations have formally declared war upon another since then.[3][4] In addition to this, non-state or terrorist organizations may claim to or be described as "declaring war" when engaging in violent acts.[5] These declarations may have no legal standing in themselves, but they may still act as a call to arms for supporters of these organizations.

HistoryEdit

The practice of declaring war has a long history. The ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh gives an account of it,[6] as does the Old Testament.[7][8] The Roman Republic formalized the declaration of war by a special ceremony, the ritual of the Fetials, though the practice started to decline into the Imperial era.

However, the practice of declaring war was not always strictly followed. In his study Hostilities without Declaration of War (1883), the British scholar John Frederick Maurice showed that between 1700 and 1870 war was declared in only 10 cases, while in another 107 cases war was waged without such declaration (these figures include only wars waged in Europe and between European states and the United States, not including colonial wars in Africa and Asia).

In modern public international law, a declaration of war entails the recognition between countries of a state of hostilities between these countries, and such declaration has acted to regulate the conduct between the military engagements between the forces of the respective countries. The primary multilateral treaties governing such declarations are the Hague Conventions.

The League of Nations, formed in 1919 in the wake of the First World War, and the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War of 1928 signed in Paris, France, demonstrated that world powers were seriously seeking a means to prevent the carnage of another world war. Nevertheless, these powers were unable to stop the outbreak of the Second World War, so the United Nations was established following that war in a renewed attempt to prevent international aggression through declarations of war.

Denigration of formal declarations of war before WWIIEdit

In classical times, Thucydides condemned the Thebans, allies of Sparta, for launching a surprise attack without a declaration of war against Plataea, Athens' ally – an event that began the Peloponnesian War.[9]

The utility of formal declarations of war has always been questioned, either as sentimental remnants of a long-gone age of chivalry or as imprudent warnings to the enemy. For example, writing in 1737, Cornelius van Bynkershoek judged that "nations and princes endowed with some pride are not generally willing to wage war without a previous declaration, for they wish by an open attack to render victory more honourable and glorious."[10] Writing in 1880, William Edward Hall judged that "any sort of previous declaration therefore is an empty formality unless the enemy must be given time and opportunity to put himself in a state of defence, and it is needless to say that no one asserts such a quixotism to be obligatory."[11]

Formal declarations of war during World War IEdit

Formal declarations of war during World War IIEdit

Declared wars since 1945Edit

Declarations of war, while uncommon in the traditional sense, have mainly been limited to the conflict areas of the Western Asia and East Africa since 1945. Additionally, some small states have unilaterally declared war on major world powers such as the United States, United Kingdom, or Russia when faced with a hostile invasion and/or occupation. The following is a list of declarations of war (or the existence of war) by one sovereign state against another since the end of World War II in 1945. Only declarations that occurred in the context of a direct military conflict are included.

War(s) Date Titled Belligerents Ended References
Declaring party Opponent
Arab–Israeli War (1948–49) 15 May 1948 declaration of war   Egypt   Israel 26 March 1979
Suez Crisis (1956)   Jordan 26 October 1994
Six-Day War (1967)   Syria Still technically at war
War of Attrition (1967–70)   Iraq
Yom Kippur War (1973)   Lebanon
Ogaden War 13 July 1977   Somalia   Ethiopia 15 March 1978
Uganda–Tanzania War 2 November 1978   Tanzania   Uganda 3 June 1979 [12]
Iran–Iraq War 22 September 1980   Iraq   Iran 20 July 1988
United States invasion of Panama 15 December 1989 existence of a state of war   Panama   United States 31 January 1990 [13]
Eritrean–Ethiopian War 14 May 1998   Ethiopia   Eritrea 12 December 2000
Chadian Civil War (2005–10) 23 December 2005   Chad   Sudan 15 January 2010 [14]
Djiboutian–Eritrean border conflict 13 June 2008   Djibouti   Eritrea 6 June 2010
Russo-Georgian War 9 August 2008 declaration of a state of war   Georgia   Russia 16 August 2008 [15]
Heglig Crisis 11 April 2012 existence of a state of war   Sudan   South Sudan 26 May 2012 [16]
Sinai insurgency 1 July 2015   Egypt   Islamic State Still at war
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict 27 September 2020   Azerbaijan   Armenia 10 November 2020
2020 Western Saharan clashes 14 November 2020 declaration of war   SADR   Morocco Still at war [17]

Russo-Ukrainian WarEdit

No formal declaration of war has been issued in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. When the Kremlin announced the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, it claimed to commence a "special military operation", side-stepping a formal declaration of war.[18] The statement was, however, regarded as a declaration of war by the Ukrainian government[19] and reported as such by many international news sources.[20][21] While the Ukrainian parliament refers to Russia as a "terrorist state" in regards to its military actions in Ukraine,[22] it has not issued a formal declaration of war on its behalf.

ProceduresEdit

In the first Hague Convention of 1899, the signatory states agreed that at least one other nation be used to mediate disputes between states before engaging in hostilities:

1899

Title II, Article 2Edit

In case of serious disagreement or conflict, before an appeal to arms, the signatory Powers agree to have recourse, as far as circumstances allow, to the good offices or mediation of one or more friendly Powers.[23]

1907

The Hague Convention (III) of 1907 called "Convention Relative to the Opening of Hostilities"[24] gives the international actions a country should perform when opening hostilities. The first two Articles say:

Article 1Edit

The Contracting Powers recognize that hostilities between themselves must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war.[25]

Article 2Edit

The existence of a state of war must be notified to the neutral Powers without delay, and shall not take effect in regard to them until after the receipt of a notification, which may, however, be given by telegraph. Neutral Powers, nevertheless, cannot rely on the absence of notification if it is clearly established that they were in fact aware of the existence of a state of war.[26]

United Nations and warEdit

In an effort to force nations to resolve issues without warfare, framers of the United Nations Charter attempted to commit member nations to using warfare only under limited circumstances, particularly for defensive purposes.

The UN became a combatant itself after North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950, which begun the Korean War. The UN Security Council condemned the North Korean action by a 9–0 resolution (with the Soviet Union absent) and called upon its member nations to come to the aid of South Korea. The United States and 15 other nations formed a "UN force" to pursue this action. In a press conference on 29 June 1950, US President Harry S. Truman characterized these hostilities as not being a "war" but a "police action".[27]

The United Nations has issued Security Council Resolutions that declared some wars to be legal actions under international law, most notably Resolution 678, authorizing the 1991 Gulf War which was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. UN Resolutions authorise the use of "force" or "all necessary means".[28][29]

LegalityEdit

The legality of who is competent to declare war varies between nations and forms of government. In many nations, that power is given to the head of state or sovereign. The official international protocol for declaring war was defined in the Hague Convention (III) of 1907 on the Opening of Hostilities.

Since 1945, developments in international law such as the United Nations Charter, which prohibits both the threat and the use of force in international conflicts, have made declarations of war largely obsolete in international relations,[30] though such declarations may have relevance within the domestic law of the belligerents or of neutral nations. The UN Security Council, under powers granted in articles 24 and 25, and Chapter VII of the Charter, may authorize collective action to maintain or enforce international peace and security. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter also states that: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right to individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a state."[2]

Requirements by countryEdit

Declaring war is usually done through a process that involves prior approval before a formal announcement is made. This differs by country as some do not have a pre-approved process, and a given head of government can declare war with no pre-conditions. Countries on the opposite side of the spectrum have either taken a neutral stance, and/or have no process in the matter.

Country War declarer Legal cause Authorized by Additional information
Brazil President Article 84 of the Brazilian constitution Congress The President of Brazil has the power to declare war, in the event of foreign aggression, when authorized by the National Congress or, upon its ratification if the aggression occurs between legislative sessions, and decree full or partial national mobilization under the same conditions.
Canada Monarch None Monarch See: Declaration of war by Canada, no formal declarations of war has been made since World War II.
Finland[31] President Article 93 of the Finnish constitution Parliament The President of Finland may declare war or peace, with permission from the Parliament of Finland
France[32] Parliament Article 35 of the French constitution Parliament Only the French Parliament has the authority to authorize a declaration of war.
Germany[33] Parliament Article 115a GG Parliament Unless Germany is attacked by an opposing military force, a two-thirds majority vote must be held in the Bundestag if the federal republic is under the threat of war.
Italy Parliament[34] Article 11° of the Italian Constitution[35] Parliament[36] Italy rejects war as an instrument of aggression. The Italian parliament has the power to declare war if it is necessary to create an order that ensures peace and justice among Nations
Mexico[37] President Article 89 § VIII of the Mexican Constitution Congress The President may declare war in the name of the United Mexican States after the correspondent law is enacted by the Congress of the Union.
Netherlands[38] States General Article 96 of the Constitution of the Netherlands States General
Russia President Article 71 and 86 of the Constitution of Russia[39][40] President Per Article 71:j "The jurisdiction of the Russian Federation includes [...] foreign policy and international relations of the Russian Federation, international treaties and agreements of the Russian Federation, issues of war and peace;" Per Article 86:a "The President of the Russian Federation shall: [...] govern the foreign policy of the Russian Federation;"
Spain Monarch Article 63 of the Spanish constitution of 1978 Parliament The King, with prior authorization by the Parliament, has the power to declare war and make peace.
Sweden[41] Cabinet 2010:1408 15 kap. 14 § entitled "Krigsförklaring" Parliament The Swedish cabinet (regeringen) may not declare Sweden to be at war without the parliament's (riksdagen) consent unless Sweden is attacked first.
Turkey Parliament Article 87 and 92 of the Constitution of Turkey Parliament The President may declare Turkey to be at war without the parliament's consent if Turkey is attacked first.
United Kingdom Monarch[42][43] None Monarch[44] See: Declarations of war by Great Britain and the United Kingdom, no formal declarations of war has been made since World War II.
United States[45][46][47] President Joint resolutions Congress See: Declaration of war by the United States, no formal declarations of war has been made since World War II.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ a b "Charter of the United Nations". Wikisource. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  3. ^ Irajpanah, Katherine; Schultz, Kenneth A. (2021). "Off the Menu: Post-1945 Norms and the End of War Declarations". Security Studies. 30 (4): 485–516. doi:10.1080/09636412.2021.1979842. ISSN 0963-6412. S2CID 239546101.
  4. ^ Fazal, Tanisha M. (2012). "Why States No Longer Declare War". Security Studies. 21 (4): 557–593. doi:10.1080/09636412.2012.734227. ISSN 0963-6412. S2CID 143983917.
  5. ^ "Basque raid 'declaration of war'". BBC News. 6 October 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
  6. ^ Brien Hallett, The Lost Art of Declaring War, University of Illinois Press, 1998, ISBN 0-252-06726-6, pp. 65f.
  7. ^ Deut. 20:10–12, Judg. 11:1–32.
  8. ^ Brien Hallett, The Lost Art of Declaring War, University of Illinois Press, 1998, ISBN 0-252-06726-6, pp. 66f.
  9. ^ Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, Book II.
  10. ^ Bynkershoek, Cornelius van. 1930. Quæstionum Juris Publici Liber Duo (1737). Trans. Tenney Frank. The Classics of International Law No. 14 (2). Publications of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Oxford at the Clarendon Press. (I, ii, 8)
  11. ^ Hall, William Edward. 1924. A Treatise on International Law. 8th ed. by A. Pearce Higgins. London: Humphrey Milford: Oxford University Press. (p. 444)
  12. ^ Kamazima, Switbert Rwechungura (2004). Borders, boundaries, peoples, and states : a comparative analysis of post-independence Tanzania-Uganda border regions (PhD). University of Minnesota. p. 167. OCLC 62698476.
  13. ^ Theodore Draper (29 March 1990). "Did Noriega declare war?". New York Review of Books. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  14. ^ "Call to ease Chad-Sudan tension". BBC News. 25 December 2005.
  15. ^ Peter Walker (9 August 2008). "Georgia declares 'state of war' over South Ossetia". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Scott Baldauf (19 April 2012). "Sudan declares war on South Sudan". Christian Science Monitor.
  17. ^ "Western Sahara independence group declares war on Morocco". 14 November 2020.
  18. ^ Putin's Ukraine invasion - do declarations of war still exist?, R. Pullen, C. Frost, The Conversation, March 3, 2022]
  19. ^ Ukraine's envoy says Russia 'declared war', The Economic Times, February 24, 2022]
  20. ^ ‘No other option’: Excerpts of Putin’s speech declaring war, AlJazeera, February 24, 2022
  21. ^ Battles flare across Ukraine after Putin declares war Battles flare as Putin declares war, Zoya Sheftalovic, politico.eu, February 24, 2022
  22. ^ Verkhovna Rada recognized Russia as a terrorist state, ukrinform.net, April 15, 2022
  23. ^ Scott, James Brown, editor The Hague Conventions and Declarations of 1899 and 1907, Oxford Univ. Press (1918) p. 43 "Pacific Settlement of International Disputes"
  24. ^ "The Avalon Project – Laws of War : Opening of Hostilities (Hague III); October 18, 1907". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  25. ^ "The Avalon Project – Laws of War : Opening of Hostilities (Hague III); October 18, 1907". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  26. ^ "The Avalon Project – Laws of War : Opening of Hostilities (Hague III); October 18, 1907". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  27. ^ "The President's News Conference". 1950-06-29. Archived from the original on 2010-12-26. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  28. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) The United Nations Security Council – Its Role in the Iraq Crisis: A Brief Overview
  29. ^ "UN Security Council Resolution 678 (1990)". UNHCR. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  30. ^ "Waging war: Parliament's role and responsibility" (PDF). House of Lords. 27 July 2006. Retrieved 21 April 2008. Developments in international law since 1945, notably the United Nations (UN) Charter, including its prohibition on the threat or use of force in international relations, may well have made the declaration of war redundant as a formal international legal instrument (unlawful recourse to force does not sit happily with an idea of legal equality).
  31. ^ "Suomen perustuslaki 731/1999 - Ajantasainen lainsäädäntö - FINLEX ®". Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  32. ^ "Constitution du 4 octobre 1958 - Legifrance". Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  33. ^ "Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany" (PDF).
  34. ^ (in Italian)Giampiero Buonomo, Limiti costituzionali all’uso della forza, in Il Parlamento, 1991.
  35. ^ "senato.it – La Costituzione – Articolo 11". www.senato.it. Retrieved 2017-01-02.
  36. ^ Buonomo, Giampiero (2002). "Maxi-emendamento nella speranza di tappare le falle del codice militare di guerra". Diritto&Giustizia Edizione Online. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  37. ^ "Capítulo III Del Poder Ejecutivo" (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  38. ^ "The Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands" (PDF). www.government.nl/. 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  39. ^ "Full text: Chapter 4. The President of the Russian Federation".
  40. ^ "Full text: Chapter 3. The Federal Structure".
  41. ^ "Kungörelse (1974:152) om beslutad ny regeringsform Svensk författningssamling 1974:1974:152 t.o.m. SFS 2018:1903 - Riksdagen".
  42. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard Former defence chiefs oppose role for MPs in war decisions, The Guardian. 2007-12-28. Retrieved on 2009-03-15
  43. ^ Kettle, Martin A declaration of war on this medieval royal prerogative, The Guardian. 2005-08-23. Retrieved on 2009-03-15
  44. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 23 Jul 1999 (Pt 23)".
  45. ^ "Text of Declaration of War on Bulgaria – June 5, 1942 – Historical Resources About The Second World War". Historical Resources About The Second World War. 7 August 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  46. ^ Kwakwa, Edward (1992). The International Law of Armed Conflict. ISBN 9780792315582. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  47. ^ Pub.L. 107–40 (text) (PDF)

External linksEdit