The collective expulsion of Russian diplomats was all over the news the past few days. The United States, Canada and 18 European countries have ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom. Over 100 Russian diplomats alleged to be spies in western countries have to return to Moscow, in a coordinated response to the use of a chemical weapon in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official, and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury on 4 March 2018.

Even the Nato has announced to cut the size of its Russian mission by a third, removing accreditation from seven Russian staff and rejecting three other pending applications. The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said the permanent size of the Russian mission would be cut from 30 to 20 people, adding the announcement was “a clear and very strong message that there was a cost to Russia’s reckless actions” in poisoning the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury earlier this month. He claimed Russia had underestimated Nato’s resolve and said the announcements would reduce Russia’s capability to do intelligence work across Nato.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a receiving state may "at any time and without having to explain its decision" declare any member of a diplomatic staff persona non grata. A person so declared is considered unacceptable and is usually recalled to his or her home nation. If not recalled, the receiving state "may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission". With the protection of mission staff from prosecution for violating civil and criminal laws, depending on rank, under Articles 41 and 42 of the Vienna Convention, they are bound to respect national laws and regulations. Breaches of these articles can lead to a persona non grata declaration being used to punish erring staff. It is also used to expel diplomats suspected of espionage (described as "activities incompatible with diplomatic status") or any criminal act such as drug trafficking. The declaration may also be a symbolic indication of displeasure.

The Peace Palace Library has created a bibliographic overview on diplomacy and expulsion, intended as a starting point for research. It provides materials available in the Peace Palace Library catalogue, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented.

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