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Problems Of A Red Passport: How Diplomatic Agents Abuse Immunity Criminal Jurisdiction And Why It Is Justified.

4098 words - 16 pages

As a prominent feature of official inter-state liaisons, diplomacy performs distinct functions in foreign policy that makes it indispensable in facilitating communication and negotiation between states and leaders, serving to promote open relations between sending states and receiving states and aiding in the development and understanding of their economic, cultural and political relations. Such acts are crucial in providing the home government with information and advice for the formulation of policies towards that host country; in a time of increasing diplomatic activity, this scope will most likely continue to expand in a globally interdependent world by states and non-traditional actors such as the United Nations and the European Union. Improved technology and communication, and the presence of an international media are challenging the function of the diplomat as an observer and reporter. The home government can now enjoy easy access to information, taking over traditional means of dialogue and personal communications, but the range of diplomatic activity is continuing to evolve, requiring a greater obligation for diplomatic agents to use such new tools, and the privileges accredited to them by international law to represent their State and respect the host State in the utmost manner.For a diplomatic agent to have the ability to freely exercise their diplomatic functions completely unhampered, international customary law grants a host of privileges and immunities. It is in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that the functions and scope of diplomatic immunity are laid out, legally positing the understanding that personal inviolability and immunity are a vital protection given to diplomatic agents and their missions on a reciprocal basis between States and that no diplomat can function without it. The 1961 Vienna Convention was a codification of measures and principles that had been an accepted part of customary international law for centuries, and in theory, immunity is offered on a purely functional basis - to safeguard diplomatic personnel and "ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions". This has not always been the case however; as the number of diplomatic personnel has grown since the end of the Cold-war, the experiences in some capitals of having these privileged foreign elite have become quite negative, with abuses ranging from minor traffic offences to assault to even murder. With diplomatic offences generating critical media attention, "the general public [is]…convinced that some of the traditional diplomatic immunities and privileges need to be further trimmed down to essentials, with tougher curbs applied to offenders".The issue of immunity is particularly concerning when one observes Article 31 (1) of the Vienna Convention pertaining to immunity from jurisdiction, enshrining the legality of diplomatic immunity: "A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal...

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