We live in one of the most peaceful times in the entire history of civilization. Mankind has never lived in total peace. History books are divided into sections from one war to another, changing only the causes of war, strategies, and technologies. However, every war has been started with an official declaration decades ago. Why such thing is not used now? Does the law of war is not existing anymore?
Of course, the declaration of war takes many forms, but the most easily recognizable seems to be something like this: the governing authorities agree on the declaration of war, which is defined by the laws of the country, and then informs the society about it. The declaration of war is a public declaration – “We will fight with you, hope for war.” In other words, the enemy is informed loud and clear about it, but why? After all, this seems to reduce the effectiveness of military action as the surprise factor disappears.
Why A War Was Declared?
The declaration of war has an old history. This is one of the earliest forms of international relations. It is mentioned both in the epic of Gilgamesh written 2100 BC and in the Old Testament. In the past, this was done by messengers who were men, or an entire delegation sent to the enemy to inform about the upcoming war. However, wars did not always start with declarations.
The Third Treaty of the Hague Convention, drawn up in 1907, defines the need for a declaration of war very precisely: the first article states that military action between signatory states cannot begin without warning that may be a “declaration of war or an ultimatum with a conditional declaration of war”. In other words, one of the basic documents of international law established the need to declare war as a warning.
Of course, the primary reason is the protection of civilian lives. States on different sides can warn their populations to keep themselves away from the strategically important sites that will be attacked first, to stockpile, and follow the news. The second article of the same treaty states that the declaration of war must also be notified to neutral states. This agreement was adopted in order to create safe zones for civilians.
The state of war is now being proclaimed more often than the declaration of war. This makes it possible to inform the citizens of your country that it is time to prepare for the defense. And it is for defense, not attack – the state of war is usually declared after acts of aggression.
What Is The Difference Between Declaring War And Introducing A State Of War?
A state of war is introduced to protect the people of a country. This is an internal report, a matter of internal policy, and civil protection. Meanwhile, declarations of war are already an area of international politics, a diplomatic act. The declaration of war is for the states, the introduction of the state of war is for the people. War can also be declared as the beginning of combat action. According to the Geneva Conventions, the war had to be declared before the first steps in order for the other side to be duly warned. A state of war is introduced when military aggression has already begun.