International

5 places where dueling to the death is not a crime

So, you've found yourself in a disagreement and, to prove your honor and chivalry, you've challenged someone to a duel, just like in the days of old. Of course, mutual combat, such as fist fighting, fencing, and even non-lethal, "stun gun" duels have their own rules, but let's assume we're talking about a pure, Hamilton-versus-Burr, to-the-death style duel.


Sadly, most countries and jurisdictions consider it murder these days, regardless of the circumstances. To define dueling, we're going by the 1777 Code Duello, which states that if two individuals can't reconcile their differences, they can meet in the field of honor, but only if they both consent, each has witnesses and doctors, and both agree to use one bullet at ten paces. By modern standards, these concessions simply complicate things. Now, by agreeing to terms beforehand, the possible death is "premeditated," which isn't smiled upon in the eyes of the law, and duels aren't covered by variations of "stand your ground" laws.

Thankfully, you two can still put your honor on the line, but you're both going to have to travel.

1. Afghan tribal areas

In the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the laws aren't governed by the respective nations, but by local tribal laws.

Honor plays a huge role in tribal life and nothing is more honorable than a duel. If you're willing to travel to the war-torn region, have at it. They probably won't stop you.

You'd probably have a few more people wanting you dead than just your dueling opponent, though. (Photo By Cpl. Reece Lodder)

2. Pitcairn Island

In the south Pacific lies the world's smallest nation. So small that it only has two police officers and not a single lawyer.

Since there aren't many laws governing all of 50 inhabitants, there's only one law that covers assaulting another person. If they do take offense to your duel, just pay the $100 fine and carry on.

It'd still take you around two weeks and a couple thousand dollars to get there. The $100 fine is probably nothing at that point. (Image via NOAA)

3. Western Sahara

The laws of the Western Sahara technically fall under Moroccan jurisdiction, but no one really gives a damn because, well, there's nothing there but desert. The region's laws are more concerned with maintaining religious customs, which has lead to a rise in terrorism.

When you're out in the desert, it's practically lawless — but legality of dueling is probably the last thing you should be concerned about.

Just you, the desert, terrorists, and your dueling opponent. (Image via Flickr)

4. International waters

It's actually a misconception that anyone can do anything on the high seas. When you're 12 miles offshore, the laws of the ship are of whichever country the ship is registered to. This is why cruise ships don't become lawless hellscapes when traveling.

But, if you were to travel to an unclaimed island that doesn't have bird or bat poop on it, both participants renounce their citizenship. Travel from that island on an unregistered ship and hope that your duel isn't noticed by the international community. If you're willing to go that far, however, you might as well talk your differences out.

And yet, the Coast Guard could still rain on your parade. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

5. Uruguay

While everywhere else on this list leaves dueling in a sort-of gray area, Uruguay made it a national law in 1920. Surprisingly enough, the last duel took place in 1971 between two politicians after one was called a coward. Another came close in 1990 between a police inspector and newspaper editor, but the inspector backed down.

It has since been made forbidden in 1992. However, since dueling played a huge role in their politics and culture, if you could get the consent of their congress and president, you can still take your ten paces.

They'll probably say no to keep up positive relations with the US and it wouldn't look good if an American died there. (DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Bonus facts

After it was wrongly added to a book of "facts," there was a common misconception that you could legally duel in Paraguay if both participants were blood donors. This falsity was quickly shot down by their government.

Also, the last official duel following the rules of Code Duello was in 1967, in France.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

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