us tanks under baghdad's victory arch
in occupied iraq
parade of the 5th royal gurkha rifles
in hiroshima prefecture
during the occupation of japan
after world war ii
military or belligerent occupation (hereon after referred to as simply occupation) is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. the territory is then known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. 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.
while an occupant may set up a formal military government in the occupied territory to facilitate its administration, it is not a necessary precondition for occupation.
the rules of occupation 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 an occupation and violates internationally agreed upon norms runs the risk of censure, criticism, or condemnation. in the current era, the practices of occupations have largely become a part of customary international law, and form a part of the laws of war.