International Co-operation and Neutrality

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Contrary to widely held beliefs and expectations during both the ‘twenty years’ crisis' and the postwar era, the gulf between international co-operation and neutrality has proved to be significantly narrower in practice than in theory. Neutrality has evolved into a dynamic, enterprising policy emphasising participation and activism in international life. Broadly speaking, participation in universal organisations, particularly in the United Nations, has been a major asset for the neutral states, enabling them to institutionalise their neutrality in the international consciousness as a ‘universal’ policy divorced from inter-bloc rivalries. Participation in regional co-operation has led to the diminution, in varying degrees, of the credibility of neutrality. From the early 1970s onwards the small states have skillfully capitalised on the evolution of detente to play an important role in the European arena through the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). Thus they have proved that if neutrality and collective security are indeed mutually exclusive concepts, then there is definitely much more of neutrality and less of collective security in international political life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1988
Externally publishedYes


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