Vienna Convention: Let’s get the facts right

Too often we read or hear about some diplomat “getting off” from a crime because of diplomatic immunity. (Really bad example in “Lethal Weapon 2.” More common example in New York City with unpaid parking tickets.)

For some reason I always thought that the international agreement that provides for diplomatic immunity — The Vienna Convention — went way back in time, like right after the Napoleonic Wars. Actually, the Vienna Convention is only 50 years old.

Many thanks to Paul Behrens at the Guardian for his article about the Convention.

The curious world of diplomatic relations

It would have been nice if at least one U.S. newspaper did a similar story. Especially when the latest and most public case involved an American in Pakistan.

Think about it. There are hundreds of consulates scattered around the United States. The foreign employees of those consulates (and their families) have some form of diplomatic immunity.

The governments of Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City regularly complain that they cannot get the diplomats in their towns to stop parking illegally and to pay their parking tickets.

There are loads other cities much smaller than the ones mentioned above that have some sort of foreign diplomatic presence.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a news organization used the anniversary of the Vienna Convention to write a few stories that

  1. Explained why a particular country located a consulate where it did,
  2. Explained how international law has reached into a local community,
  3. Discussed the economic impact of the foreign community in the area that prompted the country to set up a consulate.

And lastly, maybe explain how the Vienna Convention, while it lets diplomats in the US to get away without paying their parking tickets, also protects American diplomats abroad.

But maybe I am asking too much of local publishers and editors to see the importance of explaining the global connections to their local communities.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Story Ideas

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