BELLIGERENCY, the state of carrying on war (Lat. bellum, war, and gerere, to wage) in accordance with the law of nations. Insurgents are not as such excluded from recognition as belligerents, and, even where not recognized as belligerents by the government against which they have rebelled, they may be so recognized by a neutral state, as in the case of the American Civil War, when the Southern states were recognized as belligerents by Great Britain, though regarded as rebels by the Northern states. The recognition by a neutral state of belligerency does not, however, imply recognition of independent political existence. The regulations annexed to the Hague Convention, relating to the laws and customs of war (29th of July 1899), contain a section entitled "Belligerents" which is divided into three chapters, dealing respectively with (i.) The Qualifications of Belligerents; (ii.) Prisoners of War; (iii.) The Sick and Wounded. To entitle troops to the special privileges attaching to belligerency, chapter i. provides that all regular, militia or volunteer forces shall alike be commanded by persons responsible for the acts of their men, that all such shall carry distinctive emblems, recognizable at a distance, that arms shall be carried openly and operations conducted in accordance with the usages of war observed among civilized mankind. It provides, nevertheless, for the emergency of the population of a territory, which has not already been occupied by the invader, spontaneously taking up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to comply with the above requirements; they, too, are to be treated as belligerents "if they respect the laws and customs of war." In naval war, privateering having been finally abolished as among the parties to it by the declaration of Paris, a privateer is not entitled, as between such parties, to the rights of belligerency. As between states, one of whom is not a party to the Declaration, the right to grant letters of marque would remain intact for both parties, and the privateer, as between them, would be a belligerent; as regards neutrals, the situation would be complicated (see Privateer). On prisoners of war and sick and wounded, see War.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)