Is Neutrality an Appropriate Instrument for Domestic Security?

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 17, p.41-49 (2005)


Blurring Borders between External and Internal Security, Charter of the United Nations, Creeping Dissolution of the Monopoly of National Power, Hague Conventions, Integration of the European States, Law of Neutrality, networking, Prohibition of War


Can the Law of Neutrality, as still practised by various countries in Europe today, still prevent or protect from a war or a conflict? How compatible, if at all, is neutrality with affiliation to supranational organisations, e.g. the UN or the European Union and other international security organisations and agreements, and finally, can it contribute to domestic security? Even if the TV station Al-Jazeera broadcasted excerpts of a videotape of Osama Bin Laden addressing the American people by quoting: (…) “Let him (President Bush) tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example.” (…) we have to look at features, relevance and history of neutrality and at today’s actual security situation. The analysis of the European security situation reveals a manifold range of threats and risks, which has developed particularly through the creeping dissolution of the monopoly of national power, e.g. unresolved conflicts in the South-Eastern flank of Europe, the phenomenon of organised crime trying to integrate itself into the economic operation, the constantly growing willingness of terrorists to commit suicide attacks, the spread of WMD, etc. It can be noted that the danger of conventional military threats has clearly diminished. It is, however, evident that the new conflict potential and its forms are characterised by ethical, religious and also economically motivated actors (usually non-governmental) and that they considerably affect the safety environment of Europe. So a question must be asked, to what extent neutrality is still of use in such an environment.