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The Significance of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

The ratification of the Convention was momentous in that it called for the ‘establishment of diplomatic relations between states’ and for ‘permanent diplomatic missions to take place by mutual consent.2 The foundation of these diplomatic relations hold considerable value as it cemented equitably and just principles that govern diplomatic relations and practice among states as the rules afforded in the convention lay down the obligations of the receiving states on matters regarding amenities, privileges and immunities accorded to envoys, diplomats, diplomatic representatives and their families, anticipates potential abuse by members of the mission or and how the receiving state can counter such abuse.

Under this convention, the government of states all over the world clearly defined the functions of diplomatic officials. The most notable among these include the responsibility to protect the nationals of their state,4 allowed under international law, to promote friendly relations between the sending and receiving countries and to execute ‘consular’ functions.5 The Vienna Convention also gave way for the establishment of Diplomatic Protocol – defined as ‘the totality of norms and rules which determines the external forms of relations between states.6 It is a political tool of diplomacy, which establishes and realizes diplomatic functions. Dreimann states that diplomatic protocol is ‘universal’ and is applicable to all states regardless of their ‘socio-economic character, political and economic strength’ brought about by the democratic principles in international law which delineate ‘equality and equal rights of all States’.7 The rules embodied under the diplomatic protocol, whether they are written or unwritten, specify and stress respect for rank, title, decorum, formalities and even etiquette, to state just a few examples.

Furthermore, the immunities and privileges bestowed on diplomats cement friendly relations among and between states as these immunities are universally applicable and utilized by most nations.nbsp.nbsp.