A definition of the three ways of thinking about a declaration of war was developed by Saikrishna Prakash. He argues that a declaration of war can be seen from three perspectives:Categorical theory, under which the power to declare war includes "the power to control all decisions to enter war". This means that the power to 'declare war' in effect rests with the ability to engage in combat.
Pragmatic theory, which states that the power to declare war can be made unnecessary by an act of war in itself.
Formalist theory, under which the power to declare war constitutes only a formal documentation of executive war-making decisions. This sits closest to traditional legal conceptions of what it is to declare a war.
An alternative typology based upon the form of the declaration is formulated by Brien Hallett according to 1) the degree to which the state and condition of war exists, 2) the degree of justification, 3) the degree of ceremony of the speech act, and 4) the degree of perfection of the speech act:Degree of existence of the war
A conditional declaration of war declares war conditionally, threatening war if the grievances listed are not acknowledged and the preferred remedies demanded are not accepted.
An absolute declaration of war declares war absolutely due to the failure of negotiations over the grievances and remedies found in the conditional declaration. It ends absolutely the state and condition of peace, replacing it with the state and condition of war until such time as peace is restored.
Degree of justification of the war
A reasoned declaration of war justifies the resort to war by stating the grievances that have made peace intolerable and the remedies that will restore peace.
An unreasoned declaration of war does not justify the resort to war, or does so only minimally.
Degree of ceremony with which the speech act was made
A formal or solemn declaration of war is a declaration made by the constitutionally recognized nation following the appropriate laws, rites and rituals.
An informal or unsolemn declaration of war is a declaration made in an irregular manner either by a constitutionally unrecognized nation or by the constitutionally recognized nation using unlawful, inappropriate procedures.
Degree of perfection with which the speech act was made
A perfect declaration of war is a formal, solemn speech act made in accordance with the proper laws, rites, and rituals.
An imperfect declaration of war is an informal, unsolemn speech act not made in accordance with the proper laws, rites and rituals.
The practice of declaring war has a long history. The ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh gives an account of it, as does the Old Testament.
However, the practice of declaring war was not always strictly followed. In his study Hostilities without Declaration of War (1883), the British scholar John Frederick Maurice showed that between 1700 and 1870 war was declared in only 10 cases, while in another 107 cases war was waged without such declaration (these figures include only wars waged in Europe and between European states and the United States, not including colonial wars in Africa and Asia).
In modern public international law, a declaration of war entails the recognition between countries of a state of hostilities between these countries, and such declaration has acted to regulate the conduct between the military engagements between the forces of the respective countries. The primary multilateral treaties governing such declarations are the Hague Conventions.
The League of Nations, formed in 1919 in the wake of the First World War, and the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War of 1928 signed in Paris, France, demonstrated that world powers were seriously seeking a means to prevent the carnage of another world war. Nevertheless, these powers were unable to stop the outbreak of the Second World War, so the United Nations (UN) was established following that war in a renewed attempt to prevent international aggression through declarations of war.
In classical times, Thucydides condemned the Thebans, allies of Sparta, for launching a surprise attack without a declaration of war against Plataea, Athens' ally – an event that began the Peloponnesian War.
The utility of formal declarations of war has always been questioned, either as sentimental remnants of a long-gone age of chivalry or as imprudent warnings to the enemy. For example, writing in 1737, Cornelius van Bynkershoek judged that "nations and princes endowed with some pride are not generally willing to wage war without a previous declaration, for they wish by an open attack to render victory more honourable and glorious." Writing in 1880, William Edward Hall judged that "any sort of previous declaration therefore is an empty formality unless the enemy must be given time and opportunity to put himself in a state of defence, and it is needless to say that no one asserts such a quixotism to be obligatory."
The Hague Convention (III) of 1907 called "Convention Relative to the Opening of Hostilities" gives the international actions a country should perform when opening hostilities. The first two Articles say:28 July 1914 - Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
6 April 1917 - USA declared war on the German Empire.
3 September 1939 – United Kingdom, India, France, Australia, and New Zealand declare war on Germany.
6 September 1939 – South Africa declares war on Germany.
10 September 1939 – Canada declares war on Germany.
24 April 1940 – Germany declares war on Norway.
10 May 1940 – Netherlands declares war on Germany.
10 June 1940 – Italy declares war on UK and France.
23 November 1940 – Belgian government-in-exile declares war on Italy.
25 June 1941 – Finland declares war on the Soviet Union.
27 June 1941 – Hungary declares war on the Soviet Union.
3 July 1941 – The Soviet Union declares war on Germany.
7 December 1941 – Empire of Japan declares war on the United States and the British Empire
7 December 1941 – United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand declare war on Finland, Romania and Hungary.
7 December 1941 – Canada declares war on Japan, Finland, Romania, and Hungary.
7 December 1941 – Panama declares war on Japan.
8 December 1941 – The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Nicaragua declare war on Japan.
9 December 1941 – Commonwealth of the Philippines declares war on Japan, Italy, and Germany.
9 December 1941 – Republic of China declares war on Japan, Italy, and Germany.
9 December 1941 – Cuba and Guatemala declare war on Japan.
11 December 1941 – Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
11 December 1941 – The United States declares war on Germany and Italy.
11 December 1941 – Polish government-in-exile declares war on Japan.
12 December 1941 – Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia declare war on the United States and United Kingdom.
13 December 1941 – United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa declare war on Bulgaria.
14 December 1941 – Croatia declares war on the United States and United Kingdom.
16 December 1941 – Czechoslovak government-in-exile declares war on all countries at war with the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
17 December 1941 – Albania (under a personal union with Italy) declares war on the United States.
19 December 1941 – Nicaragua declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
20 December 1941 – Belgium declares war on Japan.
6 January 1942 – Australia declares war on Bulgaria.
25 January 1942 – United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa declare war on Thailand.
22 May 1942 – Mexico declares war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
5 June 1942 – United States declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
22 August 1942 – Brazil declares war on Germany and Italy.
2 April 1943 – Bolivia declares war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
9 September 1943 – Iran declares war on Germany.
13 October 1943 – Italy (after switching sides) declares war on Germany.
24 October 1943 – Provisional Government of Free India declares war on United Kingdom and the United States.
26 November 1943 – Colombia in state of belligerency with Germany.
25 August 1944 – Romania (after switching sides) declares war on Germany.
5 September 1944 – The Soviet Union declares war on Bulgaria.
8 September 1944 – Bulgaria declares war on Germany.
21 September 1944 – San Marino declares war on Germany.
22 September 1944 - The government of the Second Philippine Republic declares war on the United States and United Kingdom. The declaration takes effect the following day.
7 February 1945 – Paraguay declares war on Germany and Japan.
12 February 1945 – Peru in state of belligerency with Germany and Japan.
15 February 1945 – Venezuela and Uruguay declares war on Germany and Japan.
23 February 1945 – Turkey declares war on Germany and Japan.
24 February 1945 – Egypt declares war on Germany and Japan.
26 February 1945 – Syria declares war on Germany and Japan.
1 March 1945 – Saudi Arabia declares war on Japan.
3 March 1945 – Finland (after switching sides) declares war on Germany.
27 March 1945 – Argentina declares war on Germany and Japan.
11 April 1945 – Chile declares war on Japan.
6 July 1945 – Norway declares war on Japan.
9 August 1945 - Soviet Union declares war on Japan
In 1989, Panama declared itself to be in a state of war with the United States. On 13 May 1998, at the outbreak of the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, Ethiopia, in what Eritrean radio described as a "total war" policy, mobilized its forces for a full assault against Eritrea. The Claims Commission found that this was in essence an affirmation of the existence of a state of war between belligerents, not a declaration of war, and that Ethiopia also notified the United Nations Security Council, as required under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
In December 2005, the government of Chad declared that a state of war existed with Sudan, after Sudan hosted Chadian rebel groups that were behind fatal cross border raids.
In 2008, after armed clashes broke out during the Djiboutian–Eritrean border conflict, Djibouti's President Guelleh, when asked if his country was at war with Eritrea, replied with "absolutely".
On 11 April 2012, Sudan declared war on South Sudan after weeks of border clashes.
Declarations of war, while uncommon in the traditional sense, have mainly been limited to the conflict areas of the Western Asia and East Africa since 1945. Additionally, some small states have unilaterally declared war on major world powers such as the United States, United Kingdom, or Russia when faced with a hostile invasion and/or occupation.
This is a list of declarations of war (or the existence of war) by one sovereign state against another since the end of World War II in 1945. Only declarations that occurred in the context of a direct military conflict are included.
The United Nations Charter is the foundation of modern international law. The UN Charter is a treaty ratified by members of the UN, which are therefore legally bound by its terms. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter generally bans the use of force by states except when carefully circumscribed conditions are met, stating:
All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
This rule was "enshrined in the United Nations Charter in 1945 for a good reason: to prevent states from using force as they felt so inclined", said Louise Doswald-Beck, Secretary-General International Commission of Jurists.
Therefore, in the absence of an armed attack against a country or its allies, any legal use of force, or any legal threat of the use of force, has to be supported by a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing member states to use force.
In an effort to force nations to resolve issues without warfare, framers of the United Nations Charter attempted to commit member nations to using warfare only under limited circumstances, particularly for defensive purposes.
The UN became a combatant itself after North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950 (see Korean War). The UN Security Council condemned the North Korean action by a 9-0 resolution (with the Soviet Union absent) and called upon its member nations to come to the aid of South Korea. The United States and 15 other nations formed a "UN force" to pursue this action. In a press conference on 29 June 1950, U.S. President Harry S. Truman characterized these hostilities as not being a "war" but a "police action".
The United Nations has issued Security Council Resolutions that declared some wars to be legal actions under international law, most notably Resolution 678, authorizing the 1991 Gulf War which was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. UN Resolutions authorise the use of "force" or "all necessary means".
Throughout the Commonwealth realms (the UK, Canada, et al.) the formal right to declare war rests with the monarch, currently Elizabeth II, as part of the royal prerogative (for example in the UK) or that realm's written constitution. In the United Kingdom parliamentary approval is often sought to deploy combat forces overseas, for example in the Iraq War and airstrikes on Daesh (ISIL), but this is not a legal requirement.
According to article 93 of the Finnish constitution, the President of Finland may declare war, or declare peace, with permission from the Parliament of Finland.
According to Article 35 of the French constitution, the French Parliament has the right to declare war.
Article 115a says that unless attacked by an opposing military force, Germany must vote a two-thirds majority vote in the Bundestag if under the threat of war.
Article 28.3.1° of the Constitution of Ireland states that "war shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dáil Éireann." Ireland has taken a policy of non-alignment (what many confuse with neutrality see: Irish Neutrality) in military terms and is thus not a member of NATO.
According to the 11° article of the Italian Constitution, Italy rejects war as an instrument of aggression. Parliament has the power to declare war if is it necessary to create an order that ensures peace and justice among Nations; the most reliable authors exclude that among the circumstances in which it can be declared the state of war under Article 78 of the Constitution may be included also the state of internal civil war.
According to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution war is illegal. However, the Emperor of Japan is allowed to declare peace.
According to Article 89 § VIII of the Mexican Constitution the President may declare war in the name of the United Mexican States after the correspondent law is enacted by the Congress of the Union.
According to the Spanish constitution of 1978, Art. 63, the King, with prior authorization by the Parliament, has the power to declare war and make peace.
According to 2010:1408 15 kap. 14 § entitled "Krigsförklaring" (declaration of war) the Swedish cabinet (regeringen) may not declare Sweden to be at war without the parliaments (riksdagen) consent unless Sweden is first attacked.
In the United States, Congress, which makes the rules for the military, has the power under the constitution to "declare war". However neither the U.S. Constitution nor any Act of Congress stipulate what format a declaration of war must take. War declarations have the force of law and are intended to be executed by the President as "commander in chief" of the armed forces. The last time Congress passed joint resolutions saying that a "state of war" existed was on June 5, 1942, when the U.S. declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. Since then, the U.S. has used the term "authorization to use military force", as in the case against Iraq in 2003.
Sometimes decisions for military engagements were made by US presidents, without formal approval by Congress, based on UN Security Council resolutions that do not expressly declare the UN or its members to be at war. Part of the justification for the United States invasion of Panama was to capture Manuel Noriega (as a prisoner of war) because he was declared a criminal rather than a belligerent.
In response to the September 11 attacks, the United States Congress passed the joint resolution Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists on September 14, 2001, which authorized the US President to fight the War on Terror.