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 military occupation

Military occupation is effective provisional control of a certain ruling power over a territory which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the volition of the actual sovereign. Military occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature (i.e. no claim for permanent sovereignty), by its Military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.


Military government may be broadly characterized as the administration or supervision of occupied territory, or as the governmental form of such an administration. Military government is distinguished from martial law, which is the temporary rule by domestic armed forces over disturbed areas.


The rules of military government are delineated in various international agreements, primarily the Hague Convention of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as established state practice. The relevant international conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentaries, and other treaties by military scholars 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, issuance of travel documents, property rights of the populace, handling of cultural and art objects, management of refugees, and other concerns which are very important both before and after the cessation of hostilities. A country that establishes a military government and violates internationally agreed upon norms runs the risk of censure, criticism, or condemnation. In the current era, the practices of military government have largely become a part of customary international law, and form a part of the laws of war.


Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare specify that "[t]erritory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army." The form of administration by which an occupying power exercises government authority over occupied territory is called "military government." Neither the Hague Conventions nor the Geneva Conventions specifically define or distinguish an act of "invasion." The terminology of "occupation" is used exclusively.

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