Country: United Kingdom
Delegate Name: Connor Argenzio
United Nations Legal Committee
Limits of Diplomatic Immunity
Forest Hills Northern High School
Diplomacy is the central pillar of our international community; without it, the world would likely fall into utter chaos. The United Nations recognizes this importance and has implemented protective measures. To that end, diplomats are protected by a concept known as ‘diplomatic immunity’; this principle exempts all foreign officials from culpability in their official and personal activities under local courts. This precept was established by the Vienna convention in 1961. This immunity is broad; under international law, high-level ambassadors, their deputies, and immediate family can commit crimes ranging from petty theft to murder without the fear of prosecution.
The United Kingdom, with 160 active embassies in London, is committed to protecting foreign diplomats and preserving international diplomacy. However, the UK and the world have recognized the evident drawbacks of such broad immunity. For example, this year, the British Supreme Court ruled that the diplomats do not receive diplomatic protection from breaches of modern slavery laws in Basfar v Wong by a majority of three. Moreover, in response to the death of Harry Dunn, caused by the wife of an American diplomat, the UK has revised its diplomatic immunity laws to ensure that the relatives of diplomats cannot kill with impunity. The new legal revision allows for the prosecution of family members. Both of these developments have reduced the unnatural immunity held by unimportant characters.
The UK is well aware of the necessity of diplomatic immunity. However, we in the UK have been made painfully aware of its shortcomings. The current diplomatic immunity laws were made 70 years ago in a drastically different geopolitical atmosphere. We are no longer in the cold war, and therefore, the UK moves that diplomatic immunity be curtailed. There is no reason for lower-level officials and non-government-associated individuals such as family members to have complete impunity of prosecution. Consequences must exist to maintain the integrity of the law. However, we support the diplomatic immunity of high-level diplomats and leaders. The Vienna convention must be amended to represent the current diplomatic realities better. The United Kingdom looks forward to working with all nations to further the ideas of diplomacy.