The Vienna Convention
The provisions of the Vienna Convention
The Vienna convention on diplomatic relations 1961 is an international treaty which provides a framework for diplomatic relations between nations that are independent. It is an extensive document with 53 articles (United Nations, 2005). Following is an overview of the main provisions of the treaty.
The establishment of permanent diplomatic missions and diplomatic relations between states takes place through mutual consent (United Nations, 2005).
The receiving state has no obligation to give reasons for refusal of agreement to the sending state.
The head of mission serves as the representative to the sending state.
Unless there is an objection by either state, two or more states may accredit one person as the head of mission (United Nations, 2005).
The sending state may appoint a member of the staff of the mission freely. The receiving state may request submission of the names of military, naval, or air attaches for approval.
Diplomatic staff members of the mission should be nationalities of that state.
The receiving state can prohibit a member of the sending state from remaining or entering the receiving state at any time without giving reasons (United Nations, 2005). The sending state either terminates or recalls the duties of that member.
The sending state is required to establish offices in areas where the mission is established, unless there are agreements with the receiving state.
The sending state may use their emblem and flag in the offices the mission is established.
The sending state will be assisted by the receiving state in securing pf premises that are necessary for the mission (United Nations, 2005).
The host county must not enter the premises of a diplomatic mission unless the head of the sending state gives a consent (United Nations, 2005). The receiving state has a special duty to protect from intrusion, peace disturbance, and damage the premises of the mission.
Receiving state has a duty to make sure that all mission members have freedom of travel and movement within the territory except zones that are reasonably prohibited.
The charges and fees that are incurred by the mission during official duties are exempted from taxes (United Nations, 2005).
Diplomatic mission members should be protected from arrests and detention. Receiving state will ensure that the members have their freedom and dignity.
The sending state may waive jurisdiction immunity of the receiving state (United Nations, 2005). The waiver must however be expressed clearly.
In the receiving state, a diplomatic agent must not practice any commercial or professional activity for personal profit.
If a mission is permanently or temporarily recalled, or diplomatic relations are broken off;
The receiving state has a duty of protecting mission premises.
The sending state may delegate custody of the premises to a third party acceptable by receiving state (United Nations, 2005).
The sending state may trust the third state to protect its nations provided the receiving state accepts the third state.
Importance of the Vienna Convention
Providing a framework that governs diplomatic relations among independent states
Diplomatic relations between countries that are independent is an importance governance aspect. This is associated with a growing demand for a framework that defines how such states co-work and relates. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, was established to provide such a framework (Barker, 2000). The convention gives a framework which governs the diplomatic relations among various states that are independent across the world.
Giving freedom for diplomatic missions
The Vienna Convection is a treaty that gives freedom for diplomatic missions. This allows diplomats to execute their duties without interference, harassment or fear from host states. The treat forms the foundation for imperviousness and defence (Barker, 2000). The provisions of the Vienna Convention are anticipated to facilitate the growth of friendly relations among states regardless of the differences in social systems and constitutions.
Promoting the efficient performance of diplomatic mission functions
The Vienna Convention provides immunities and privileges whose purpose is to make sure that there is sufficient performance of diplomatic mission functions. Before the treaty, unstable relations characterized diplomatic relations hindering performance of the mission functions (Barker, 2000). However, the Vienna Convention in Diplomatic Relations in 1961, provided proper guidelines for promoting peaceful international relations leading to the efficient performance of diplomatic mission functions.
Establishing coherent relations
Prior to the Vienna Convention, a conspiracy among diplomats led to violence and war. However, the treaty established guidelines that created coherent relations among diplomats associated with social-economic developments.
Implementation of the Vienna Convention
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is the most accepted instrument universally and globally that has ever been instituted with a purpose of regulating diplomatic conduct. The treaty has facilitated mutual diplomatic relations in more than fifty years. The treaty has helped in preventing diplomatic crimes leading to peaceful diplomatic relations. The treaty was adopted in 1961 in on a conference held by the United Nations on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities in Vienna. It was first implemented on April 24 1964. It was implemented by the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. Ever since its first implementation, it has played a fundamental role in the conduct of foreign relations and in ensuring that diplomats execute their duties without any influence threat by the host state.
Various abuses of diplomatic privileges and immunities
The Vienna Convention provides diplomatic privileges and immunities. In some occasions, the privileges and immunity have led to unexpected results (Morris, 2007). In various ways, some protected diplomats have abused the privileges and immunity granted by the host state. Such abuses include;
The diplomatic immunity from labor laws has triggered incidents where diplomats have been accused of abuse of local employees. Some diplomats ignore labor laws in working hours, holidays, minimum wages, and privacy (Ben-Asher, 2000). Various cases have been reported in nations that provide diplomatic immunity where local employees are abused by the diplomats.
Diplomats have abused the given immunity by smuggling drugs into the host countries. Various diplomats have been accused of selling drugs in the host countries. Apart from drug smuggling, they also engage in other illegal smuggling activities (Ben-Asher, 2000). For instance, a diplomat from Korea to Bangladesh was found with illegal gold worth over $1.4 million.
Some diplomat abuse the immunity by failing to pay rents avoiding alimony and child support, and failing to pay charges that are levied for certain rendered services (Ben-Asher, 2000). There are many cases where diplomats run away living large debts in host countries causing huge problems.
Other abuses include violating parking rules, drunk driving and assault, disrespecting local people, and violating of general laws in the host country (Ben-Asher, 2000). The fact these people have diplomatic immunity makes it hard to charge them for the abuses.
Possible solutions to the abuse of diplomatic privileged and immunities
Re-examination of the convention
It is important that the Vienna Convention is re-examined to make constructive changes in provisions that are causing some challenges. One of the changes is preventing diplomats from claiming diplomatic immunity when they have violated human rights. Host nations should have the power to arrest and question diplomats who abuse the immunity (Ben-Asher, 2000). If there is enough evidence pointing to the violation, the sending nations should be informed of the allegations and the courts of the receiving nations have the power to prosecute the diplomat. The sending nations should also ensure that they send right diplomats to host nations.
Limit immunity provided by the Vienna Convention
There is a need to address the mount off protecting given to diplomats by the Vienna Convention. Although article 41 cautions diplomats from taking advantage of the privileges and immunities, more appropriate measures are need to limit the abuse (Maginnis, 2003). Receiving nations should have power over diplomats who violate local laws.
It is important that regular appraisals to the Vienna Convention are made after a given number of years. Such a regeneration will ensure that the convention is always relevant. This way any form of abuses will be addressed preventing abuse of the diplomatic immunities. The Vienna Convention is useful in promoting friendly relations among nations. Making important changes will ensure that the convention attains more success. It is important that diplomats are fully responsible for all their actions (Ben-Asher, 2000). Otherwise, international relations will be characterized by war and violence. Then all the efforts made by the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations of 1961 will be meaningless.
Barker, C. (2000). International Law and International Relations. Continuum: London.
Ben-Asher, D. (2000). Human Rights Meet Diplomatic Immunities: Problems and Possible
Solutions. Harvard Law School.
Maginnis, V. (2003). Limiting Diplomatic Immunity: Lessons Learned From 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the U.N. Brooklyn Journal of International Law, pp. 35-48.
Morris, W. (2007). Constitutional Solutions to the Problem of Diplomatic Crime and Immunity. Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 36. No.2, pp.601- 638.
United Nations (2005). Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, pp.1-16.