12 December 2019 – International Day of Neutrality

The International Diplomatic Institute, a body accredited to the Economic Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) with special status, gladly adheres to the high and deserving wishes of the UN General Assembly, which has asked to celebrate the International Day of Neutrality, on 12 December, by organizing events aimed at improving public awareness of the value of neutrality in international relations.

The date chosen by the General Assembly also wants to remember what happened on December 12, 1996, when the aforementioned Body had always expressed its satisfaction to the Republic of Turkmenistan, which had decided to provide itself, by legislative means, with the status of “permanent neutrality”.

In this regard, this Diplomatic Institute, precisely in its status of belonging to the same granted and wishing to express lively gratitude to the United Nations, the highest and supranational institution, which throughout the world strives daily to promote peace and harmony among Nations, is particularly honored to send this message approved by its own Directive.

The message is a brief, timid but equally sincere praise of Neutrality, both as a legal situation and as responsible and effective ethical conduct on the part of a State or an Institution, while understanding that neutrality itself can be perceived in at least two contrasting dimensions, one in negative and the other in positive.

It should also be noted that the International Diplomatic Institute, as a body of training and mediation, has firmly adopted, as far as it is concerned and also through various cultural initiatives, the dictates of Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, concerning the obligation of member States to resolve their international disputes by the peaceful means provided for in international law, refraining from the threat or use of force in their relations, as also reaffirmed in Resolution 71/275.

The legal condition of neutrality does not escape this Institute, which is typical of those States that want to remain extraneous from armed conflicts, deciding not to consent to the claims and/or claims of any of the contenders. It should always be remembered that the condition in question is constituted and protected by respective international rights and duties, a normative system that is created between neutral and belligerent subjects.

We are also aware of the substantial revisions and regulatory changes to which the regime of neutrality has been subject, particularly in the historical period between the previous decades and between the two world wars, i.e. from the First and Second Hague Convention of 18 May 1899 and 18 October 1907 (neutrality in times of war) to the UN Charter of 26 June 1945 (in force since 24 October 1945). We would like to recall the fundamental innovation, which arose from the terrible experience of the Second World War that has just ended and from the appalling social and infrastructural destruction that occurred in that sad period of human history, namely the general prohibition of the use of armed force for the achievement of national political goals and for the resolution of any international disputes, as enshrined in Art. 2.4 of the aforementioned UN Charter. Fortunately, the principle mentioned above, is acquired and firm as a law by the international legal system and in force erga omnes in the States belonging to the United Nations.

The aforementioned principle of a general ban on the use of armed force is also finding a dramatic and urgent topicality in current days. In fact, the highly negative results of the unscrupulous use of armed force are easily foreseeable, especially if they are carried out by countries already possessing nuclear weapons or capable of producing them; therefore this Diplomatic Institute hopes that this prohibition will really be observed not so much on the basis of a mere condescension to a normative precept of an international character, but more for a strong and conscious assumption of responsibility by the rulers who must always have, as their primary interest, the welfare of the peoples entrusted to them.

Turning attention to the condition of neutrality in itself and to the neutral as the subject that puts it in place, in the common feeling it is not difficult to highlight the negative meaning of what is in question: the neutral is by definition the one who does not take a position and does not take sides because he abstains, is perceived as weak, the one who does not have the courage of his own actions, who perhaps always and in any case always seeks his own advantage.

Even if it is true that the situations described above have found their foundation in D in some subjects, the undeniable advantages of both social and economic order, which have arisen for the non-belligerent peoples and also as such, from the conduct of neutrality of some States in situations of particular and prolonged war activities (it is sufficient to recall the case of some States in Europe, which with their neutrality, during the Second World War, have allowed the rescue of many people).

Where neutrality has been a positive and propitious situation to avoid conflict, to limit the damage to defenceless people and infrastructure or even to put an end to it altogether, new horizons of peace and growth of human dignity and socio-economic progress of populations previously subjected to situations certainly worse than their existence have imposed themselves.

Following in the footsteps of international doctrine, the International Diplomatic Institute sees neutrality as the pivotal factor of mediation, which, thanks to it, draws even more vigour and succeeds in imposing itself among cobelligerents in the case of national States

or among Institutions when the intervention of third parties other than States is required.

Far from going into the classical concepts, forged by solid doctrine and proven jurisprudence, of temporary or occasional neutrality, of perpetual or permanent neutrality, or of voluntary neutrality, concepts on which Authors and Authors have composed monuments to the history of law, the International Diplomatic Institute would rather like to follow in the wake of those who see in it an effective means of settling disputes and regaining lost harmony, also hoping that it will flourish with greater intensity between institutions or subjects hitherto in conflict.

It also deserves special attention how being neutral implies a positive act of will to be so, an act of will which becomes for that very same legal act which, in turn, is recognized and imposes itself as a fact and therefore deserving of every better protection by the legal system of reference, first and foremost the international one, when mediation comes from the quintessentially neutral subject such as the United Nations Organization. For this reason, this Diplomatic Institute sees the Elogio della Neutralità (Praise of Neutrality), which is proposed in the present happy occasion of the Day of Neutrality, a real act of gratitude to the work carried out in these seventy years by the UN, which with its Organizations and Agencies, has placed important resources and specific skills at the service of world peace and human, social, cultural and economic progress of the peoples who live there.

Scroll to Top