Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
Signatories (light green) and ratifications (dark green) of the convention
|Drafted||22 April 1963|
|Signed||24 April 1963|
|Effective||19 March 1967|
|Condition||Ratification by 22 states|
|Parties||176 (as of June 2013)|
|Citations||500 U.N.T.S. 95; 23 U.S.T. 3227|
|Languages||Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish|
|Vienna Convention on Consular Relations at Wikisource|
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an international treaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent countries. A consul normally operates out of an embassy in another country, and performs two functions: (1) protecting in the host country the interests of their countrymen, and (2) furthering the commercial and economic relations between the two countries. While a consul is not a diplomat, they work out of the same premises, and under this treaty they are afforded most of the same privileges, including a variation of diplomatic immunity called consular immunity. The treaty has been ratified by 176 countries.
The treaty is an extensive document, containing 79 articles. Following is a basic overview of its key provisions. For a comprehensive enumeration of all articles, consult the original text.
- Article 5. Thirteen functions of a consul are listed, including protecting in the receiving state the interests of the sending state and its nationals, as well as developing the commercial, economic, cultural, and scientific relations between the two countries.
- Article 23. The host nation may at any time and for any reason declare a particular member of the consular staff to be persona non-grata. The sending state must recall this person within a reasonable period of time, or otherwise this person may lose their consular immunity.
- Article 31. The host nation may not enter the consular premises, and must protect the premises from intrusion or damage.
- Article 35. Freedom of communication between the consul and their home country must be preserved. A consular bag must never be opened. A consular courier must never be detained.
- Article 36. Foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice "without delay" of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. If the detained foreign national so requests, the police must fax that notice to the embassy or consulate, which can then check up on the person. The notice to the consulate can be as simple as a fax, giving the person's name, the place of arrest, and, if possible, something about the reason for the arrest or detention.
State parties to the convention
There are 176 state parties to the convention. The signatory states that have not finished their ratification procedures are: Central African Republic, Israel, Ivory Coast and Republic of Congo. The states that have neither signed nor ratified the convention are: Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Cook Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Niue, Palau, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and the states with limited recognition.
Application of the treaty by the United States
In March 2005, the United States pulled out of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which allows the International Court of Justice to have compulsory jurisdiction over disputes arising under the Convention. In June 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled that foreign nationals who were not notified of their right to consular notification and access after an arrest may not use the treaty violation to suppress evidence obtained in police interrogation or belatedly raise legal challenges after trial (Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon). In March 2008, the Supreme Court further ruled that the decision of the International Court of Justice directing the United States to give "review and reconsideration" to the cases of 51 Mexican convicts on death row was not a binding domestic law and therefore could not be used to overcome state procedural default rules that barred further post-conviction challenges (Medellín v. Texas ).
- Text of the Convention
- Implications of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations upon the Regulation of Consular Identification Cards
- U.S. Quits Pact Used in Capital Cases: Foes of Death Penalty Cite Access to Envoys – Washington Post article by Charles Lane
- Introductory note by Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, procedural history note and audiovisual material on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in the Historic Archives of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
- Lecture by Eileen Denza entitled Diplomatic and Consular Law – Topical Issues in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law