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Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations |

Highlights of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961

The Vienna convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) is an international legal document or treaty on functions of diplomatic missions and provides necessary privileges & immunities to diplomats in respect of local laws to act without fear of coercion or harassment and to communicate securely with their sending governments. The convention is signed & ratified by 189 states till date (include all major countries).


  • The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations provides framework for establishment and maintenance of diplomatic relations b/w independent sovereign states on basis of their mutual consent.
  • The Sending state requires prior approval of receiving state before sending a diplomatic mission but receiving state has no obligation to give reasons for refusal of such approval.
  • The receiving state may any time during mission be able to declare any member of diplomatic staff (including head of mission) as persona non grata (not acceptable person on its territory) – Article 9.

Duties of Receiving State

  • The mission & head of mission has right to use national flag & emblem of sending state at premises of mission including at residence and transport of head of mission.
  • The receiving state has responsibility to protect premises and agents of mission by taking adequate measures. Also premises, transport or any related property of diplomatic mission shall be immune from any search, acquisition or execution.
  • The receiving state shall accord in all manners for smooth operation or accomplishment of mission.
  • Article 27 provides secure communication of information & instruction b/w sending state & mission staff by appropriate means such as couriers, messages etc. Also receiving state shall not open or detain any diplomatic bag contains such information even on suspicion of threat.

Immunity of Diplomats

  • The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable and shall not be liable for any arrest or detention even if his actions were of personal nature. The respective state shall treat him with due respect & take necessary measures for his security, freedom and dignity (Art 29).
  • Also private residence of diplomat shall be immune from any search, acquisition etc. as similar to premises of mission (Art 30).
  • Article 31 says that a diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from criminal jurisdiction of receiving state. Also enjoyed immunity from its civil & administrative jurisdiction except in case of:-
    • An action related to professional/commercial activity in receiving state outside his official duties.
    • A real action related to private/immovable property in territory of receiving state outside his official residence or property provided for purpose of mission.
  • The diplomatic agent is not obliged to give evidences as witness. Also diplomatic agent enjoys immunity from jurisdiction of receiving state but not from jurisdiction of sending state (Article 31).
  • The immunities enjoyed by diplomats and their persons may be waived by sending state (Art 32).
  • A diplomatic agent who employs persons is obliged to respect social security provisions of receiving state imposed on employers except persons/servants are not permanent resident of receiving state and they are not covered under any social security provisions of their respective state (Art 33).
  • A diplomat shall be freed from all kind of dues & taxes, personal, national, regional or municipal except outside official functions or income such as indirect taxes on goods, tax on private income etc (Art 34).
  • The receiving state shall exempt diplomats from all kind of public/private services and from military obligations as well (Art 35).
  •  The personal luggage of diplomat and family shall be exempt from inspection except if serious threat of containing articles outside official information or personal use such as import/export article prohibited by law etc (Art 36).
  • The members of family of diplomat enjoy all above immunities and private servant/staff also enjoyed immunities from acts performing in their duties with exemption from dues & taxes on emoluments provided that they are not national of or permanent resident of receiving state (Art 37).

Duties and Functions of Diplomats

  • The all persons who enjoy privileges and immunities have duty to respect laws and regulations of receiving state.
  • The premises of mission shall not be used in any manner incompatible with functions of Mission. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.
  • All official business with the receiving State entrusted to the mission by the sending State shall be conducted with or through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State or such other ministry as may be agreed.
  • The diplomatic agent shall not practice any professional activity for personal profit.


  • The receiving state shall protect and provide all facilities to diplomats (& their persons) even in case of armed conflict.
  • The receiving state shall respect and protect premises of mission or property or their archives even after bilateral relations are broken or a mission is recalled.
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