Persona non grata

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In diplomacy, a persona non grata (also abbreviated to PNG) (Latin: "person not welcome", plural: personae non gratae) is a foreign diplomat who is asked by the host country to be recalled to their home country. If the person is not recalled as requested, the host state may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the diplomatic mission (including the removal of diplomatic immunity). A host country may declare persona non grata status for any member of a diplomatic staff at any time without any explanation.


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.[1] A person so declared is considered unacceptable and is usually recalled to their home nation. If not recalled, the receiving state "may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission."[2] A person can be declared persona non grata before that person even enters the country.[1]

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,"[3][4] or any overt criminal act such as drug trafficking. The declaration may also be a symbolic indication of displeasure.[5]

So-called "tit for tat" exchanges have occurred (whereby countries involved in a dispute each expel the ambassador or other diplomats of the other country), notably during the Cold War. A notable occurrence outside of the Cold War was an exchange between the United States and Ecuador in 2011: the Ecuadorian government expelled the United States ambassador, as a result of the United States diplomatic cables leak; the United States responded by expelling the Ecuadorian ambassador.[6]

Other usage[edit]

People other than diplomats can be declared persona non grata by a country.[1]

In non-diplomatic usage, referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that the person is not popular or accepted by others.[7]

In the Philippines, local legislatures of provinces, towns, and cities can declare certain people or groups, including non-diplomats and Filipino citizens, as persona non grata to express a negative sentiment toward the certain person through a non-binding resolution. This could be in response to the person breaking local ordinance or laws.[8] This has also happened in Spain.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c VanOpdorp, Davis (6 March 2019). "What does it mean to be declared persona non grata?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations". eDiplomat. Article 9. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  3. ^ Eaton, William J. (20 October 1986). "Soviets Oust 5 U.S. Diplomats as Spies : Shultz Promises Action in Response to Unprecedented Mass Expulsion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 May 2019. The Soviet Foreign Ministry accused the five Americans of engaging in "actions which are incompatible with their official status"--the normal diplomatic jargon for espionage.
  4. ^ "Spain-Russia spy row leads to diplomats' expulsion". BBC News. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2019. The Spanish foreign ministry spokesman said the two Russians had been expelled "for activities incompatible with their status as diplomats" - the diplomatic term for spying.
  5. ^ Cavell, Anna (14 November 2012). "'Persona non grata' in South Sudan". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 23 May 2019. "Persona non grata" (PNG), is the most serious form of censure a government can take against a person with diplomatic immunity and often used by governments as symbolic expressions of displeasure.
  6. ^ "US expels Ecuadorian ambassador in diplomatic tit-for-tat". France 24. Agence France-Presse. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Persona non grata definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  8. ^ Dumlao, Artemio (June 28, 2017). "Fariñas declared persona non grata by his home province". The Philippine Star. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  9. ^ "Pozoblanco (Córdoba) declara personas 'non gratas' a los miembros de 'La Manada'" (in European Spanish). Europa Press. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.

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