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Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 Essay

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Updated: Jul 21st, 2020

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is the main international legal instrument identifying the status and functions of the diplomatic representation in the governments. The Convention is comprised of fifty-three articles regulating the rules and orders of the diplomatic relations establishment and termination and defining the norms of the diplomatic status assignment. The larger part of the Convention is devoted to the diplomatic immunities and privileges for diplomatic personnel and their family members (Yavuz 164).


The immunities are granted to the Heads of the States, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the heads of other higher governmental institutions during the time of their official stay at the foreign territories. The immunities guarantee exemption from jurisdiction and from “all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal” (“The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” 1074). The immunity is regarded as valid only in the case when a diplomat is on the official mission in a foreign country and has an official accreditation. Therefore, diplomatic immunity is functional – it is limited by the scope of diplomatic functioning.


Members of the diplomatic agency cannot fulfill their functions while obeying the governments of the receiving states. Therefore, the diplomats are granted with the personal inviolability that guarantees the security from the arrest or persecution (Paksas 98). Any act of violence directed at the diplomacy representative is regarded as an action against the state itself. The personal inviolability is valid on the territory of the state throughout the diplomat’s functioning. Thus, a diplomat can enjoy total personal freedom as well as freedom from the restrictions in his/her work.


Diplomatic asylum is commonly defined as “the privilege of the ambassador’s personal inviolability to his dwellings” (Den Heijer 401). In the Vienna Convention, nothing is mentioned about the asylum issue. However, article 41, par. 3, states: “The premises of the mission must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State” (“The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” 1077). But in practice, the embassies often serve as asylums for the political refugees. The asylum is not one of the main functions of diplomatic missions, but it is practiced in case of the specific agreements signed by the parties (Barker 105).


“Reciprocity is an important principle in diplomatic relations in general and in negotiation interactions between diplomatic actors, agencies, and agents in particular” (Faizullaev 291). Overall, reciprocity can be regarded as the symmetry of the states’ interests. According to article 3, reciprocity implies negotiation and the development of mutually beneficial relations between the states (“The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” 1067). Moreover, the reciprocity concept implies compliance with all the laws and regulations mentioned in the Convention. Reciprocity suffers in case the immunity rules are violated.


Similarly to diplomatic immunities, privileges are granted to the states’ official representatives, and they guarantee the protection from the legal actions in the countries of the diplomats’ mission. The specific diplomatic privileges include the exemption from all the customs duties and related charges. The personal baggage and luggage of diplomats are not exposed to inspection (“The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” 1075).

Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963

The Convention is the international legal document that provides a framework for the consular relations between the states. Similarly to diplomats, a consular fulfills the functions of protecting interests of his/her country and establishment of the international relationships (Melissen and Fernandez 347). Members of consular missions thus enjoy the same immunities, privileges, and inviolability rights described in the Vienna Convention of 1961. The Convention on Consular Relations is meant to provide information about the rules for consular service arrangement, standards of relationship establishment, and the requirements that the consular post members need to follow while operating on the territory of the receiving state.

Character of Consular Functioning

In article 5 of the Convention, the concept of consular functions is introduced. It describes the multiple aspects of the consular operation on the territory of the receiving state and determines the role a consular play in the establishment of the international relationships. One of the main consular functions is the protection of the state’s interests and development of economic and cultural relations with the receiving countries, and all the functions need to be fulfilled in compliance with the international law regulations (“Vienna Convention on Consular Relations” 4).


The concept of the mission involves the rules and conditions for the state’s representatives’ admission and assignment. The articles describe the consular appointment standards and instruments, legal regulations, as well as the requirements a person needs to meet to apply for the post. Exequatur is a crucial aspect of the mission concept as it provides the authorization for consular functioning (Exequatur par. 1).

Consular Relations Premises

The concept relates to the rules of the establishment of the consular relation. In the article, the directions are given for the consular mission members to follow in the development of international relations. The premises for the establishment of the relationship include the mutual consent, reciprocity, and the detachment of the diplomatic relations from the consular ones (“Vienna Convention on Consular Relations” 3).

Physical Extents and Limits of Consular Mission

The concept explains the standards for the definition of the mission residence and location. The consular mission’s functioning is valid within the limits of the consular district that are established according to the agreements made by both parties. The extension of the consular functioning is regulated by the receiving state and is regarded as valid only by mutual consent.

End of Consular Services

The concept relates to the prerequisites for the consular functions termination and the regulations of the consular departure from the hosting state territory (“Vienna Convention on Consular Relations” 11). In article 25, the reasons for the consular service termination are described. The functions may come to an end due to the termination of the consular authorization, or the state’s specific notifications. In article 26, the standardized rules of the departure preparation and arrangement are discussed. The hosting state is obliged to depart a former member of the consular post and his family members as soon as the notification about the end of services is received by the officials.

Works Cited

Barker, Craig. Protection of Diplomatic Personnel. Abingdon, GB: Ashgate, 2013. Print.

Den Heijer, Maarten. “Diplomatic Asylum and the Assange Case.” Leiden Journal of International Law 26.2 (2013): 399-425. Print.

“Exequatur.” The Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Diplomacy. 2012. Print.

Faizullaev, Alisher. “Diplomatic Interactions and Negotiations.” Negotiation Journal 30.3 (2014): 275-299. Print.

Melissen, Jan and Ana Mar Fernandez. Consular Affairs and Diplomacy. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Print.

Paksas, Audrius. “Inviolability of Premises of Diplomatic Mission and Practical Aspects of its Ensuring.” Jurisprudencija 17 (2000): 98-107. Print.

2005. Web.

“The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” The American Journal of International Law 55.4 (1961): 1064–1077. Print.

Yavuz, Mehmet. “Scope of Diplomatic Family in Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” Law & Justice Review 4.1 (2013): 164-182. Print.

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