Country: South Africa
Delegate Name: Emerson Abbo
Limits of Diplomatic Immunity
The Republic of South Africa
Forest Hills Eastern High School
Diplomatic immunity is the protection diplomats receive from foreign laws. Important government officials receive the most diplomatic immunity, with their families and those working under them slightly less. Those with diplomatic immunity are safe from criminal prosecution and most civil suits but must respect the laws of the country receiving them. More specifically, a host country has the power to send diplomats back and prosecute them with the consent of the diplomat’s home country. Diplomatic immunity serves as an important tool for limiting conflicts in diplomatic relations. However, diplomats are rarely held accountable for crimes committed in foreign states, as their home countries seldom repeal immunity. This leads to countless violations that undermine the United Nation’s ideals of fairness and accountability.
The Republic of South Africa strongly believes in the importance of diplomatic immunity, as it encourages peaceful negotiations between countries. There are around 330 foreign missions in South Africa, and over 10,000diplomats and their families are overseen by The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). DIRCO is very diligent in its mission of encouraging peaceful international relations and even exempts the personal packages of important diplomats, using X-rays and detection dogs. Despite South Africa’s commitment to strengthen international relations, they recognize grossly inappropriate use of immunity and commit to maintaining justice in international relations. For example, in an assault case by Grace Mugabe, the former First Lady of Zimbabwe, South Africa issued an arrest warrant. South Africa disregards diplomatic immunity only in malevolent crimes and encourages other countries to reflect on its ample issuing of diplomatic immunity.
South Africa believes in exempting only deliberately violent crimes from diplomatic immunity and disregarding most else. While various injustices may occur, South Africa believes that not convicting diplomats for their crimes supports more justice and peace long term. Immunity encourages productive relations between states–an essential staple for the progress of peace and justice between countries.