Neutrality: Engaged, Credible, and Useful

The concept of neutrality has evolved over time, with various definitions emerging since the 19th century. Initially, neutrality was associated with non-participation in foreign wars and military conflicts. However, after the onset of the Cold War, the focus shifted towards non-participation in military alliances. In the context of “engaged neutrality,” neutral states should also take principled positions. Neutrality does not imply value-neutrality, and in times of conflict, neutral states must condemn serious human rights violations, genocide, and warfare. However, neutral states are not compelled to adopt the stances of great powers or alliances. Unlike alliances, they do not pose a threat to major powers. Engaged neutrality, therefore, stands in contrast to mere detachment. It signifies active involvement whenever feasible and abstention when necessary. This approach can constitute a valuable contribution to mediation and de-escalation during periods of escalating international tensions.