Inviolability of Diplomatic Missions• 1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of mission. – Article 22 Vienna Convention (1961) Article 22 I (i) defines ‘ the premises of the mission’ as ‘the buildings…and the land ancillary thereto…used for the purposes of the mission’.
Inviolability of mission (cont)• 2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to take all appropriate steps to prevent any disturbances of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity. Article 22 Vienna Convention (1961)
Iran – US case• The International Court of Justice stated that: – Iran was placed under the most categorical obligations, as a receiving state, to take appropriate steps to ensure the protection of the United States Embassy and Consulates, their staffs, their archives, their means of communication and the free movement of the members of their staff.
Inviolability of Diplomatic Agents• The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving state shall treat him with due respect and shall take appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity. – Article 29 Vienna Convention (1961)
Inviolability of Agents (cont)• 1. The private residence of a diplomatic agent shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the mission. – Article 30 Vienna Convention (1961) • Also includes papers , correspondence etc (Article 30 (2))
Immunity from local jurisdiction• It is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. – Article 41 Para.1 Vienna Convention (1961) • However
Immunity from Criminal jurisdiction• A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state. – Article 31 Paragraph 1 Vienna Convention (1961)
Immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction• Article 31, paragraph I also confers immunity from the local civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in the case of: – (a) a real action relating to private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving State, unless he holds it on behalf of the sending State for the purposes of the mission;
Civil immunity (cont)– (b) an action relating to succession in which the diplomatic agent is involved as executor, administrator, heir or legatee as a private person and not on behalf of the sending State;– (c) an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving State outside his official functions. • Article 31, Paragraph 1 Vienna Convention (1961)
Waiver of Immunity• Immunity in relation to both criminal and civil matters can be waived, and local law will then apply.• Waiver of immunity is done by the sending State, not the individual involved – Article 32 Vienna Convention (1961)
Diplomatic Bag• The receiving state shall permit and protect free communications on behalf of the mission for all official purposes. Such official communication is inviolable and may include the use of diplomatic couriers and messages in code and cipher. – Article 27 Vienna Convention (1961)
Diplomatic bag (cont)• The diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained and packages constituting the diplomatic bag ‘must bear visible external marks of their character and may contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use’. – Article 27(3) Vienna Convention (1961)
Diplomatic Bag (cont)• There have been provisions introduced to prevent abuse of the Diplomatic bag – In the Dikko incident on 5 July 1984 a former Nigerian minister was kidnapped in London and placed on a crate to be flown to Nigeria. The crate was opened at Stansted airport although it was accompanied by a person claiming diplomatic status.
Law prior to 1961• There was no multilateral treaty on diplomatic immunities prior to 1961. There was general custom identified by state practice and a series of bilateral treaties. Some of these treaties were within wider capitulation agreements which allowed foreign states not only jurisdiction over their diplomats, but all of their nationals on foreign soil.
Reading• Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Oct., 1961), pp. 1064-1077• Jonathan Brown, ‘Diplomatic Immunity: State Practice under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations’, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Jan., 1988), pp. 53-88