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Persona Non Grata

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Persona Non Grata

The diplomatic officer must be acceptable to the receiving State if he is to have any official status at all. Article 9 of the Vienna Convention allows for the receiving State not to accept individuals before appointment and also to expel diplomats after their appointment as a result of their wrongful acts.

The fundamental rationale of this Article allows for the receiving State to expel a diplomat who has behaved unacceptably.[1] This Article essentially means that declaring a diplomat, staff or his family persona non grata forces the sending State to take one of two actions: either recalling the diplomat to his home country or terminating his functions with the sending State’s mission. Should the sending State refuse to remove the individual from his duties then the receiving State may refuse to recognise the person as a member of the mission, resulting in him being liable to prosecution. The time frame in which he has to leave will depend on the circumstances of the incident. It is not possible to come to a conclusion as to what is a reasonable period. Interestingly, 48 hours has been the shortest time span justified as a “reasonable period”. One of the most common reasons for declaring a person persona non grata is for espionage.[2]

Article 9 is not used in every case of suspected serious crime. It is used sparingly, especially in instances of persistent or serious abuse, for example in cases where diplomats cannot be prosecuted and waiver is not granted. There is no need to give reasons for expulsion, as it is clear cut: a crime was committed and the responsible diplomat cannot be prosecuted or punished. Thus the fear of reciprocal action by the sending State will not be relevant because no other options are available to the receiving State. In theory, the statement is correct. However, it can be argued that in practice and from the examples above that this is clearly not the case.

References and Works Cited

[1]           Denza, Supra Note 28, at 59-62.
[2]           Denza, Supra Note 28, at 63.

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