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Freedom of Navigation and Neutrality in the Gulf War, 1980 - 1988: the Dutch and Belgian Mine-hunting Activities

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Chapter Summary

On the 20th of November, 1987, two Belgian and two Dutch mine-hunters, accompanied by a Belgian supply ship and escorted by a British frigate, entered the Persian Gulf. When we consider the position of Belgium and the Netherlands in respect of the Gulf war, it is beyond doubt that up to the moment of the decisions to dispatch mine-hunters to the area these two States were neutral in the broad sense of the term: they did not participate in the conflict, and neither were they regarded as "participants" by the parties to the conflict. The "mine-hunters in question" were of the same type as the ones dispatched some months later to the Gulf area. This chapter focuses on some aspects of international legal interest of Belgian-Dutch operation: notably, freedom of navigation and, in that connection, European vital interests and neutrality.

Keywords: Belgian mine-hunters; Dutch mine-hunters; freedom of navigation; Gulf War; neutrality

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