Does diplomatic law really protect? Some harsh realities in the 21st century that all diplomats and consular officers should be aware of.
Until recently, the conventional wisdom was that the Vienna Conventions regarding diplomats and consular officers were complied with by states, and provided good protection to diplomatic and consular officers.
With the Snowden revelations, we now have confirmation that communications from embassies and consulates to headquarters are monitored consistently, contrary to the Conventions. While many suspected that this was the reality, the Snowden revelations confirmed the truth of this suspicion.
While the Conventions are treaties of international law, and therefore bind states, they do not necessarily provide legal protection to diplomats and consuls within the country of accreditation. In common law countries, like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, the protections envisaged in the treaties are not always part of domestic law. In such cases, a judge in a court in those countries has the right (and obligation) to ignore any aspect of the Conventions that has not become part of the domestic law of the state.
The situation is even more complex: subsequent to the Vienna Conventions, new treaties have been signed, such as the Convention Against Torture, and the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court. Those conventions contain provisions which contradict some of the protections afforded to diplomats and consular officers under the Vienna Conventions.
Grappling with these contradictions, and understanding the current context of rights and obligations of diplomats and consular officers, will be the focus of this webinar. We will look at the following issues:
- Are the Snowden revelations evidence of the thin edge of the wedge? Is this the beginning of the end for diplomatic law?
- Do new conventions need to be drafted which will accord with present day realities?
- How can you know whether the Vienna Conventions themselves afford protection in a given country of accreditation and the extent of those protections?
- How do we reconcile the conflict between the protections afforded under the Conventions and the newer treaties? Are the inviolability of embassy or consulate premises and the diplomatic bag being 'trumped' by human rights and international criminal law?
- What effect will these developments have on the conduct of diplomacy in the future?
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