Status quo ante bellum

The term status quo ante bellum (also statu quo ante bellum and often shortened to status quo ante) is a Latin phrase meaning "the situation as it existed 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 examplesEdit

An early example is the treaty that ended the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 between the Eastern Roman and the Sasanian 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.

Another example is the sixteenth-century Abyssinian–Adal war between the Muslim Adal Sultanate and Christian Ethiopian Empire which ended in a stalemate. Both empires were exhausted after this war, and neither was ready to defend itself against the pagan Oromo Migrations.[2]

Seven Years' WarEdit

The Seven Years' War between Prussia and Austria lasted from 1756 to 1763 and concluded in status quo ante bellum.[3] 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.

War of 1812Edit

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.[4] During negotiations, British diplomats had suggested ending the war uti possidetis.[5] While American diplomats demanded cession from Canada and British officials also pressed for a pro-British Indian barrier state in the Midwest and keeping parts of Maine they captured (i.e., New Ireland) during the war,[6][7] the final treaty left neither gains nor losses in land for the United States or the United Kingdom's Canadian colonies.

Korean DMZ ConflictEdit

The Korean DMZ Conflict, also referred to as the Second Korean War by some, was a series of low-level armed clashes between North Korean forces and the forces of South Korea and the United States, largely occurring between 1966 and 1969 at the Korean DMZ.

Football WarEdit

The Football War, also known as the Soccer War or 100 Hour War, was a brief war fought between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. It ended in a ceasefire due to intervention by the Organization of American States.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965Edit

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between Pakistan and India. The conflict began following Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against Indian rule. This war concluded in a stalemate with no territorial changes.[8]

Iran–Iraq WarEdit

The Iran–Iraq War lasted from September 1980 to August 1988. "The war left the borders unchanged. Three 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."[attribution needed] In exchange Iran gave a promise not to attempt any invasion of Iraq while the latter was busy in Kuwait.

Kargil WarEdit

The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place in 1999 between 3 May and 26 July of the Kargil district in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LoC). The war started with the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and armed insurgents into positions on the Indian side of the LoC. After two months of fighting, the Indian military regained the majority of the positions on the Indian side, and the Pakistani forces withdrew to their peacetime positions. The war ended with no territorial changes on either side.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fellmeth, Aaron X.; Horwitz, Maurice (2009), "Status quo ante bellum", Guide to Latin in International Law, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780195369380.001.0001, ISBN 978-0-19-536938-0, retrieved 19 June 2020
  2. ^ Gikes, Patrick (2002). "Wars in the Horn of Africa and the dismantling of the Somali State". African Studies. University of Lisbon. 2 (2): 89–102. doi:10.4000/cea.1280. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  3. ^ Schweizer, Karl W. (1989). England, Prussia, and the Seven Years War: Studies in Alliance Policies and Diplomacy. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 250. ISBN 9780889464650.
  4. ^ Donald Hickey. "An American Perspective on the War of 1812". PBS. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Treaty of Ghent: War of 1812". PBS. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. ^ Benn, Carl (2002). The War of 1812. New York: Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 1-84176-466-3.
  7. ^ Henry Adams, History of the United States of America during the Administration of James Madison (1890; Library of America edition, 1986) 2:127-145
  8. ^ "Indo-Pakistan conflict".
  9. ^ "1999 kargil conflict".