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The questions says it all. What's the difference between a peace treaty and a non-aggression pact?

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A peace treaty is a formal agreement to end an ongoing war. Note that a formal peace treaty is not the only way to do that (just like you don't need a formal declaration to start a war). The Second World War, for example, ended without there being an official peace treaty between Germany and the allied nations until 1990.

Non-aggression pacts are an agreement to not start a war to begin with. These were popular between world war 1 and the end of world war 2, but fell out of favor. The reason is that there are no real consequences for breaking a non-aggression pact between two countries. That means it doesn't provide any actual security against a war. For example, Nazi Germany and the USSR made a non-aggession pact in 1939 which was broken by Nazi Germany in 1941 as soon as they found it convenient. In fact, making a non-aggression pact is often considered a sign of aggression in the first place, as it implies that aggressions between two countries are not completely unthinkable.

Since the founding of the United Nations non-aggression pacts have become very rare in international politics, because the UN charter forbids aggression and thus puts the whole world into a non-aggression pact to begin with.

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  • Clearly, the consequences to breaking a non-aggression pact are that the other country will use military force to enfor.... oh, wait. Nevermind. – Bobson Feb 11 '16 at 16:33
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A non-aggression pact says neither side will attack the other militarily. A peace treaty is done between two sides that are already at war, and ends the war that already exists.

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