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Issue Debate #5: Revision to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Need of The Hour?

edited September 2015 in Issue Debates
Issue Debates Archives


Distinguish between diplomatic and consular immunity. Is there a need to re-look at the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in the larger interest of International Human Right? Critically analyse the issue, substantiating with recent events.

Reading List:-

1. http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/draw-the-line-3/
2. http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/immunity-is-not-impunity/


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Comments

  • AksAks
    edited September 2015
    Nice Essay
    Prelims: 5, Mains: 5, Interview:3. Final Attempt CSE 2018
    “Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.”
  • Diplomatic relations are prime and foremost links between any two countries which constitutes bigger picture for garnering support and remodelling image of a nation and its people between international community wwhereas consulate are specific which work for trade and bilateral relations under an embassy. Immunity provided under an embassy has a much wider scope than that of consular immunity. For example, the former is provided with a different diplomatic passport and permission is required for conviction in any offence.
    Vienna convention is a legally binding document between different nations for diplomatic relations which was ratified way back in 1960's. Since then, there have major overhaul in balance of power and diplomatic equations hence it is need of the hour that they should be amended with changing international dynamics. Recent case of human rights violations in Syria has necessitated the need for rethinking of Vienna convention on international relation in larger interest of international human rights:-
    1. Migrant people from Syria, turkey and neighbouring war torn areas to European countries have been turned down due to refugee problem and they have been left over to their own fate in conflict zone. Since migrant people population can excaburate refugee problem hence concerned nations can form consensus and intervene in civil war in Syria
    2. United Nations can also put sanction on these nations as to pressurise the so called "elected governments" to put an end to this misery
    3. While surrounding countries for time being should provide all possible aids(medical, economic etc.) in wake of this crisis
    These steps can hamper revolutionary and fundamentalist tendencies in middle East so as to curb the menance of human rights violations and destruction
  • Distinguish between diplomatic and consular immunity. Is there a need to re-look at the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in the larger interest of International Human Right? Critically analyse the issue, substantiating with recent events.

    Diplomatic Immunity is granted to individuals above a certain rank. It allows foreign representatives to work in host countries without the fear of legal harassment for their official acts. Vienna Convention exempts them from civil and criminal jurisdictions of host states.
    Consular immunity is a variant of diplomatic immunity . The protection offered is not as extensive as it is under diplomatic immunity . Consul officers can be tried for criminal cases by local judiciary .

    The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 defines a guideline for diplomatic relations between countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable the diplomats to perform their diplomatic functions without the fear of any legal hassles. This forms the legal basis for the diplomatic immunity. Vienna Convention on Consular Relations makes exceptions for grave crimes for consular officers.

    On some occasions, however , diplomats have violated laws of the host country and diplomatic immunity has been invoked to escape liability. Recently , India's high commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar was recalled over allegations that his wife had assaulted the domestic help. Police in NZ were denied permission to interrogate the diplomat or his family. Much recently , India has been unable to prosecute the Saudi diplomats accused of sexual abuse. Diplomatic conventions cannot be used as convenient tools behind which violent crimes can be perpetrated. Human right violations as a result of personal misconduct of diplomats does not come under the aegis of diplomatic functions .

    The purpose of these privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient and effective performance of their official missions on behalf of their governments. While diplomatic immunity must be maintained , certain modifications in the convention giving primacy to universally acknowledged human rights and rule of law ought to be made to bring to book the offending diplomats accused of heinous crimes either by the host nations or in the form of a permanent international diplomatic court.




    I dont agree with concluding part of your answer. Modifications in the convention to bring the culprits to justice is a good idea, you are proposing this for heinous crimes, that's fine. But how one could know that a person/diplomat committed a heinous offense- through investigation right? What if someone wages a false complaint against the said diplomat ? Is not it a hurdle for his functions as a diplomat? I argue that, there is no lacunae in the convention, rather the responsibility lies with the home country, if any such case arises its better for home country to recall the diplomat. In this case Saudi Arabia should maintain just relations by doing so. @Nuralain
  • In critical analysis part, we can also write:
    *In the recent case of Saudi diplomat- On one hand if the immunity is waived off even if for certain cases or if any such proposal is initiated by India then it might hamper our relationship with the gulf countries which are rich source of remittances for India and also India is dependent on them to meet out its oil requirements.Also in other cases,India may lose its strategic partners.
    *By waiving off the immunity,the diplomats would become vulnerable to false and frivolous litigations in the name of heinous crimes.

    On the other hand:
    *If status quo is maintained then not only the 2 women in this case but many more may not feel safe under the legal provisions.
    *Also if the diplomats are allowed to go Scot-free ,it would set up a wrong precedence and may result into increase in number of such cases.

    Thus considering the recent cases of human rights violations there is a need to relook at the Vienna convention and by maintaining the immunity in civil cases, proposal for its limitation in certain heinous criminal offences should be made.After all its the diplomats who are given the task to maintain peace through negotiations,if they indulge in such offenses,their credibility would be severely impacted.
    " The more you sweat in peace , the less you bleed in war."
  • @nuralain, I think diplomatic immunity was borne out of the necessity arising out of situations as seen during WW2, which worsened during the Cold War, when tit for tat became the name of the game.

    The International Situation has improved to be much better than before, and I agree that certain Universal Human Rights have to take precedence over and be honoured even under Diplomatic Immunity.
    *No good deed goes unpunished* | I am no knight, do not call me Sir | I write articles for Civil Services Aspirants, you can find them at http://blog.forumias.com/author/neyawn |
  • 'diplomatic immunity ' facilitates the smooth relationship between two nation bilaterally . Scrapping it on purview of crime committed by a diplomat in his assigned nation is not a worthy option to pay off;
    - Diplomats represent the entire nation on global platform ,hence any action taken against them synonymies that other nation taking it over . it becomes critical when it happens betweens the nation of same par ; usa or russia . Where , "cold war state " between them has been never out of their core . Scrapping immunity to diplomats may gave them option to play foul politics over one other using false case against diplomats.
    -viena convention accepted unanimously accepted across the world has contributed immensely to sustain the healthier relationship between nation. Convention stands for absolute immunity and any such crime done by diplomat has to be dealt by the law of diplomat's mother nation. In Today's world ,no nation can afford to take side of false player as every nation is supposed to stand for humanity .And bound to take action against their diplomat ,if he/she commits any crime. so i think there is no need to scrap the law .while ,channels for fair trial should be ensured by both nation to uphold the natural justice .
    Upsc upsc upsc upsc .!! Aur upsc !!
  • Baapre
    Itna itna jyada likhte hai app SB ?
    But muje to kuchh idea n hai inn topic ka ?
    Main kya kru ?


  • @Eklavya Um , the issue of false complaints lies across the spectrum . The onus is on the investigative agencies to establish objective truth . Also , just because it has been committed by a diplomat , the crime does not reduce nor does the suffering of the victim. Consider this case . What is the guarantee that Saudi Arabia will punish them ? Hudud cases in Saudi are in favor of men , that is they need to confess . Only a neutral adjudicator can deal with such matters . As I said , certain human rights have to be given precedence over the entire concept of diplomatic immunity .

    of course one should not underplay the importance of human rights. However in this case of diplomatic immunity we can not tread a mid path, its highly difficult. I am eager to know how one could bring those culprit diplomat to justice through amendments to the convention without having unprecedented repercussions for global diplomatic community. If any such solution could be found, definitely it should be pursued. I got a solution though :D convention itself should put in place a mechanism to deal with such allegations and complaints, parties should recognize and respect the proceedings of this kind. this way impartiality in dealing with such cases be ensured. :D
  • The way i see it, diplomatic immunity (for some) is a virtual license to do what the diplomat pleases
  • edited September 2015
    @Nuralain "India's high commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar was recalled over allegations that his wife had assaulted the domestic help. Police in NZ were denied permission to interrogate the diplomat or his family."

    These lines doesnt seem right to me for a UPSC answer. I dont think naming is a good option. It will be better if we write something indirectly for this one and not blame our country and a senior officer for misusing a law on mere allegations.
  • I believe all the helpers for diplomats should be provided from the home country itself!! This way atleast basic human right issues would be avoided. It would then be the responsibility of only the home country to ensure that their citizens are not mistreated.

    Otherwise, I believe blanket immunity should hold no matter what!
  • A relook at the Vienna convention is needed. But diplomatic immunity should not be taken away. As others have stated here, the immunity provides a sense of security for a representative in a host country even in extreme cases such as breaking out of a civil war. The Vienna convention may be modified in such a way that the diplomats who are found guilty of doing heinous crimes are punished according to the law of their homeland. The punishment may range from suspending them from service for a short time or retaining them in posts within the country (diplomats home country)itself. This will not only ensure that the friendly ties with other countries are not affected but also give the host country or rather their citizens a sense of security.
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