Diplomatic Immunity

Essay by Laurel CroninUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 1997

download word file, 7 pages 3.0

Downloaded 83 times


United Kingdom, 1982

While unloading the ship which carried the embassy's materials, one box marked 'household effects' dropped from a forklift. More than six hundred pounds of marijuana worth 500,000 British pounds (1982 prices) spilled dockside.

For centuries governments have used ambassadors, and diplomats to represent their nation. These special envoys have done everything from resolving years of conflict, deciding on how much humanitarian relief will be sent to a nation, or just being present at diplomatic dinners and ceremonies. These people have been the vital link between nations, and they have enjoyed complete immunity from the law of the host nation. Originally this immunity was extended as a courtesy to allow for an uneventful stay in the host country. While in a foreign country on official business, the diplomat would be granted exemption from arrest or detention by local authorities; their actions not subject to civil or criminal law.

For the longest time this privilege produced little or

no incidents. However, this unique position of freedom that diplomats, their family, and staff have been graced with has not been so ideal. Recently the occurrences of abuse for personal or national

gain has grown out of proportion. What once protected the diplomat and his staff from parking tickets and some differing social laws, now grants them protection under the law to commit crimes

such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, rape, and murder. Even though serious crimes are rare and punishable to various extents in most countries, domestic authorities were forced to look the other

way. While it would be convenient to believe that the six hundred pounds of marijuana was sent for personal consumption at the embassy, it is evident a small drug trafficking ring was being protected under the guise of diplomatic immunity.


The international community has tried...