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The term status quo ante bellum (often shortened to status quo ante) is a Latin phrase meaning "the state existing before the war".[1]

The term was originally used in treaties to refer to the withdrawal of enemy troops and the restoration of prewar leadership. When used as such, it means that no side gains or loses territory or economic and political rights. This contrasts with uti possidetis, where each side retains whatever territory and other property it holds at the end of the war.

The term has been generalized to form the phrases status quo and status quo ante. Outside this context, the term antebellum is, in the United States, usually associated with the period before the American Civil War, while in Europe and elsewhere with the period before World War I.

Historical examples

An early example is the treaty that ended the Great 602–629 War between the Eastern Roman and the Sassanian Persian Empires. The Persians had occupied Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt. After a successful Roman counteroffensive in Mesopotamia finally brought about the end of the war, the integrity of Rome's eastern frontier as it was prior to 602 was fully restored. Both empires were exhausted after this war, and neither was ready to defend itself when the armies of Islam emerged from Arabia in 632.

War of 1812

Another example of a war that ended status quo ante bellum is the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom, which was concluded with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814.[2] During negotiations, British diplomats had suggested ending the war uti possidetis,[3] but the final treaty, due in large part to a resounding American victory in the Battle of Lake Champlain, left neither gains nor losses in land for the United States or the United Kingdom's Canadian colonies.

Seven Years' War

Also, the Seven Years' War between Prussia and Austria lasted from 1756 to 1763 and concluded status quo ante bellum.[4] Austria tried to regain the region of Silesia, lost in the War of the Austrian Succession eight years previously, but the territory remained in the hands of the Prussians.

Iran–Iraq War

The Iran–Iraq War lasted from September 1980 to August 1988. "The war left the borders unchanged. Two years later, as war with the western powers loomed, Saddam Hussein recognized Iranian rights over the eastern half of the Shatt al-Arab, a reversion to the status quo ante bellum that he had repudiated a decade earlier."

Yugoslav Wars

After the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 and 1992, the constituent republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia retained the boundaries they had within that state. When the Yugoslav wars ended in the Dayton Accords of 1995, all republic boundaries remained unchanged; the formation of Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina within Bosnia were purely administrative and one can move about freely within Bosnia as before the war.

Kargil War

The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LoC). The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LoC, which serves as the de facto border between the two states. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan's Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces led by General Ashraf Rashid. The Indian Army, later on supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LoC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces were forced to withdraw from Indian positions along the LoC.[5]

See also

  • Pre-war
  • Fait accompli
  • Revanchism
  • Irredentism
  • Reset button technique
  • Facts on the ground
  • De facto
  • Ex factis jus oritur


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