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Diplomatic Law in a New Millennium$
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Paul Behrens

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795940.001.0001

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The Personal Inviolability of Diplomatic Agents in Emergency Situations

The Personal Inviolability of Diplomatic Agents in Emergency Situations

(p.75) 6 The Personal Inviolability of Diplomatic Agents in Emergency Situations
Diplomatic Law in a New Millennium

Paul Behrens

Oxford University Press

Personal inviolability is one of the oldest rights of diplomatic agents and is often considered to be at the root of diplomatic immunity. The wording it received in the Vienna Convention does not allow for any exceptions. But the absolute nature of the right can lead to difficulties—especially in situations in which diplomats themselves cause a danger to the general public or particular individuals. This chapter explores potential inroads under international law into the concept of inviolability and thus discusses the applicability of self-defence, necessity, and distress in situations of emergency. It also raises the question whether the human right to life imposes certain obligations on the receiving State which are capable of limiting diplomatic inviolability. In a concluding section, the chapter reflects on the justifications which are particularly likely to carry validity in situations marked by a need to deal with dangers arising from diplomatic actions.

Keywords:   diplomatic inviolability, necessity, distress, self-defence, right to life, jurisdiction, State responsibility, circumstances precluding wrongfulness

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