Military Government

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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A government that is established during or after military occupation by the victorious country in an armed conflict. According to INTERNATIONAL LAW, the territory that has been placed under the authority of a hostile army continues to belong to the state that has been ousted. However, it may be ruled by the occupiers under a special regime.

When a country's army achieves decisive victory over an enemy, the victor may supplement military presence in the enemy territory with some type of government. If the victor is a signatory to certain international agreements, it must follow international RULES OF WAR that outline the rights and responsibilities when governing a territory under belligerent occupation. This military government is not the same as MARTIAL LAW, although the occupiers may impose martial law as part of maintaining order.

The rules of military government are established in various international agreements, primarily the Hague Conference of 1907 and the Geneva Conference of 1949. These documents provide guidelines on such topics as rights and duties of the occupying power, protection of civilians, treatment of prisoners of war, coordination of relief efforts, property rights of the ousted state, and other wartime and postwar concerns. A country that establishes a military government and steps beyond its allotted rights runs the risk of international censure or criticism. Countries sometimes try to deny that they have imposed a military government. For example, in the Persian Gulf War, Iraq claimed that Kuwait is an Iraqi province and therefore not eligible for the protections given by the law of belligerent occupation.

The U.S. CIVIL WAR (1861?1865) contributed to the development of rules for military behavior and belligerent occupation. The Lieber Instructions is considered a first attempt to codify the laws of war as they existed during the Civil War era. Columbia College Professor Francis Lieber prepared this list of laws in 1863 at the request of President ABRAHAM LINCOLN. They led in part to the Brussels Conference of 1887 and the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 on land warfare. The Lieber Instructions included sections on military jurisdiction, protection of persons, and public and private property of the enemy.

The U.S. Civil War pitted the Confederacy?a group of southern states that wanted to secede from the United States?against Union forces, made up of primarily...

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