List of wars extended by diplomatic irregularity

There are different claims of wars extended by diplomatic irregularity which involve long peaceful periods after the end of hostilities where, for various reasons, the belligerents could be considered to be in a technical state of war. For example, occasionally small countries named in a declaration of war would accidentally be omitted from a peace treaty ending the wider conflict.

Such "extended wars" are discovered much after the fact, and have no impact during the long period (often hundreds of years) after the actual fighting ended. The discovery of an "extended war" is sometimes an opportunity for a friendly ceremonial peace to be contracted by the belligerent parties. Such peace ceremonies are even conducted after ancient wars where no peace treaty was expected in the first place, and in cases where the countries weren't even at war at all, such as the case of Berwick v Russia. These "treaties" often involve non-sovereign sub-national entities, such as cities, who do not in reality have the power to declare or end wars.

Related situations (not necessarily listed below) include:

  • Frozen conflicts, where an armistice (cease-fire) is signed or fighting comes to an end, but there is intentionally no peace treaty because the underlying political conflict has not been resolved.
  • A state of war that ends without a peace treaty when the original declaration of war was deemed to be illegal, such as the declaration of war by Thailand against the United States was mutually recognized to be after World War II.
  • Political conflicts that continue after the signing of a peace treaty that formally ends the state of war. For example, the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 ended the state of war between Japan and the Soviet Union that was declared during World War II, but the Kuril Islands dispute remains an unresolved consequence of the war.

Extended warsEdit

Combatants Historical conflict Declaration of war De facto peace De jure peace De facto duration De jure duration De facto - de jure difference Status of claim
  Isles of Scilly
  Dutch Republic
First Anglo-Dutch War (Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War) 1651 1654 1986 4 333 329 The Dutch Republic under Michiel de Ruyter declared war solely on the Isles of Scilly, as the final stronghold of the Royalist naval force which was capturing Dutch merchant ships. When the Dutch and the Commonwealth of England signed the Treaty of Westminster (1654), this separate state of war was not mentioned and thus not included in the peace. The Dutch ambassador, visiting in April 1986 to conclude peace, joked that it must have been harrowing to the Scillonians "to know we could have attacked at any moment."[1]
Peninsular War 1809 1814 1981 6 173 167 The Spanish town of Huéscar was at war with Denmark, as a result of the Napoleonic wars over Spain, where Denmark supported the French Empire. The official declaration of war was forgotten until it was discovered by a local historian in 1981, followed by the signing of a peace treaty on 11 November 1981 by the city mayor and the Ambassador of Denmark. Not a single shot was fired during the 172 years of war, and nobody was killed or injured.
Russo-Japanese War 1904 1905 2006[2] 2 103 101 Montenegro declared war in support of Russia but Montenegro lacked a navy or any other means to engage Japan. After Montenegro (independent in 1904, but united with Serbia by 1918) had voted in 2006 to resume its independence, it concluded a separate peace treaty in order to establish diplomatic relations with Japan. See Japan–Montenegro relations.
  Costa Rica
World War I 1918 1918 1945 1 28 27 Due to a dispute over the legitimacy of the government of Federico Tinoco Granados, Costa Rica was not a party to the Treaty of Versailles and did not unilaterally end the state of war.[3] The technical state of war ended after World War II only after they were included in the Potsdam Agreement. Costa Rica did not issue a declaration of war against Germany in World War II.[4]
  Allies of World War II
World War II 1939 1945 1991 6 53 46 At the time World War II was declared over, there was no single German state that all occupying powers accepted as being the sole representative of the former Reich. The "war" technically did not finish until German reunification in 1990. However, in 1949 some technicalities were modified to soften the state of war between the U.S. and Germany. The state of war was retained since it provided the U.S. with a legal basis for keeping troops in Western Germany.[citation needed][5] As a legal substitute for a peace treaty[6] the U.S. formally ended the state of war between the U.S. and Germany on 19 October 1951 at 5:45 p.m. According to the U.S., a formal peace treaty had been stalled by the Soviet Union.[6] It was not until the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany was signed in 1990 that peace was formally established. The treaty came into effect on 15 March 1991.
UN Forces (led by United States)
Gulf War 1991 1991 2003 1 13 12 The UN resolution which ended the first Gulf War, only enacted a cease-fire. It did not end the state of war with Iraq.[7] The British Government would, 12 years later, use the de jure state of war with Iraq to provide the legal basis for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[8]

Opponents of the Iraq War have criticised this interpretation, with one source labelling it as "legal gymnastics" (see Legality of the Iraq War).[9][10][11]

Symbolic peace agreementsEdit

Combatants Historical conflict Declaration of war De facto peace De jure peace De facto duration De jure duration De facto - de jure difference Status of claim
Third Punic War 149 BC 146 BC 1985 4 2134 2130 Ancient Rome and Ancient Carthage never signed a peace treaty after the Romans seized and completely destroyed the city of Carthage in 146 BC and enslaved its entire surviving population, leaving no entity with which to make peace. In 1985 the mayors of modern Rome and Carthage municipality signed a peace treaty and accompanying pact of friendship.[12]
Peloponnesian War 431 BC 404 BC 1996 28 2427 2399 The mayors of modern-day Athens and Sparta signed a symbolic agreement to end the war in 1996.[13][14] By then, the two cities had been part of modern-day Greece for over a century.
Crimean War 1853 1856 1966 4 114 110 Local custom in the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed states that when the United Kingdom declared war on the Russian Empire that the town was included in the declaration of war, but was left out of the peace treaty. Although research concluded that they had never been included in either,[15] a peace treaty was nonetheless allegedly signed between Robert Knox and an unnamed Soviet official.[16] However, Jim Herbert of the Berwick Borough Museum said in 2006 that contemporary newspaper reports did not confirm that a treaty had been signed, nor could Knox's remark to the Soviet official who was said to have attended the signing, "Tell the Russians they can sleep easy in their beds", be verified.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Britain: Peace In Our Time". Time. 28 April 1986.
  2. ^ "Montenegro, Japan to declare truce". United Press International.
  3. ^ United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (1919). Treaty of peace with Germany: Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, sixty-sixth Congress, first session on the Treaty of peace with Germany, signed at Versailles on June 28, 1919, and submitted to the Senate on July 10, 1919. Government Printing Office. pp. 206–209. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  4. ^ "11 Wars That Lasted Way Longer Than They Should Have". Mental Floss.
  5. ^ "The Nations: A Step Forward". Time. 28 November 1949. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b "National Affairs: War's End". Time. 16 July 1951. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  7. ^ Goldsmith, Peter (17 March 2003). "A case for war". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  8. ^ Morrison, David (28 October 2015). "Was Britain's military action in Iraq legal?". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  9. ^ Oborne, Peter (31 October 2015). "Peter Oborne's unofficial Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq war".
  10. ^ Wilmshurst, Elizabeth (24 March 2005). "Wilmshurst resignation letter". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Clegg clarifies stance after saying Iraq war 'illegal'". 21 July 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  12. ^ "'Better Late Than Never' Category: Rome, Carthage Finally Make Peace". Los Angeles Times. Reuters. 20 January 1985. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Sparta & Athens". NPR. 12 March 1996. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Athens, Sparta sign peace pact". United Press International. 12 March 1996. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  15. ^ Strochlic, Nina (26 February 2015). "Berwick-upon-Tweed, the British Town at War With Russia". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b Graham, Spicer (24 July 2006). "Myth Or Reality? Berwick Revisits Its 'War With Russia'". Culture 24. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)