The law of neutrality which was codified in The Hague Conventions of 18 October 1907 and is part of international customary law, defines the rights and obligations of a neutral state. The most important of these rights is the inviolability of a neutral state’s territory. The main obligations are as follows:
- refrain from engaging in war
- ensure its own defence
- ensure equal treatment for belligerent states in respect of the exportation of war material
- not supply mercenary troops to belligerent states
- not allow belligerent states to use its territory
The law of neutrality applies to international conflicts but not to internal conflicts, which the majority of conflicts currently represent. The law of neutrality does not apply to a military operation authorized by the United Nations (UN) Security Council, for the latter is acting under a mandate from the community of states in order to re-establish peace and international security. Nor does the law on neutrality prevent neutral states from supporting such operations.