Punitive expedition

Punitive expedition

The American punitive expedition against Malolo, Fiji in 1840 by Alfred Agate.

A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, either as revenge or to apply strong diplomatic pressure without a formal declaration of war. More commonly in the 19th century, punitive expeditions were used as pretexts to colonial adventures that resulted in annexations, regime changes or changes in policies of the affected state to favour one or more colonial powers.

Stowell (1921) provides the following definition:

When the territorial sovereign is too weak or is unwilling to enforce respect for international law, a state which is wronged may find it necessary to invade the territory and to chastise the individuals who violate its rights and threaten its security.[1]


  • Notable punitive expeditions 1
  • Notes 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Notable punitive expeditions


  1. ^ Stowell 1921, pp. 41–42.
  2. ^ "A Victory for the Chinese; Japanese Driven with Heavy Loss from Ping-yang".  
  3. ^ "To Punish the Murderers; Great Britain Will Send Another Expedition to Benin City".  
  4. ^ Elser, Frank B. (April 14, 1916). "Assure Pershing of Co-operation; Gen. Herrera and Staff Greet Villa's Pursuers After 100-Mile Ride in Desert".  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Swami, Praveen (24 November 2010). "China is treading on dangerous ground".  

See also


  • Gordon, Leonard (1965). "Japan's Abortive Colonial Venture in Taiwan, 1874". The Journal of Modern History 37 (2): 171–185.  
  • Stowell, Ellery Cory (1921). Intervention in International Law. Washington, D. C.: J. Bryne & Co. pp. 41–42.