Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

What is the Vienna Convention of 1961?

  • An international agreement known as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides a framework for diplomatic relations between nations. The United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Relations and Immunities in Vienna, Austria, adopted the treaty in 1961. By creating a unified set of norms and values, the treaty seeks to foster cordial ties between countries. 
  • The treaty outlines the guidelines for diplomatic relations between nations, comprising: 
  • The privileges that diplomats enjoy in other countries
  • The three classes of heads of mission
  • The members of the mission, including the head of the mission and the members of the staff
  • Sixty-one nations signed the treaty in 1961. As of right now, 193 nations have signed the agreement.

What is the Purpose and background behind the Vienna Convention?

  • By offering a standardized set of procedures and guidelines for diplomatic interactions, the Vienna Convention primarily seeks to foster cordial ties between nations.
  • It is extensively ratified, observed, and regarded as one of the most effective legal tools under the United Nations. It is a cornerstone of contemporary international relations and international law.

What is the historical background behind the Vienna Convention?

  • Throughout the history of sovereign governments, diplomats have typically enjoyed a unique status.
  • The Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the Havana Convention respecting Diplomatic Officers in 1928 were the first attempts to formally incorporate diplomatic immunity into diplomatic law.
  • Adopted in 1961, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations became operative in 1964, governing the treatment of diplomats.

What are the key provisions of the convention?

53 articles in the Convention cover different facets of diplomatic relations.

  • Diplomatic immunity: According to Article 29, diplomats are exempt from arrest and detention, allowing them to do their duties without worrying about being harassed or forced to make decisions by their host nation.
  • Inviolability of diplomatic premises: Diplomatic missions and their properties, including the residences of diplomats, are inviolable and must be guarded against destruction or intervention by the host nation (Article 22).
  • Inviolability of archives and documents: According to Article 24, a diplomatic mission’s archives and papers are inviolable and cannot be taken or opened by the host country.
  • Free communication: Diplomats’ home country and the host nation must be able to communicate freely. The host nation must guarantee this. According to Article 27, diplomatic couriers may not be held or imprisoned, nor may diplomatic baggage be opened.
  • Immunity from the jurisdiction of the host nation: Except in certain cases about professional activity conducted outside of official duties, diplomats are exempt from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the host nation (Article 31).
  • Exemptions from taxes and customs: According to Article 34 and Article 36, diplomatic posts are not subject to taxes or customs charges.
  • Protections for family members: According to Article 37, diplomats’ families who reside in the host nation are granted the majority of the same protections as the diplomats themselves.

What is the relation between India and the Vienna Convention?

  • In 1965, India became a member of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. 
  • The Vienna Convention came into effect in India when the Diplomatic Relations (Vienna Convention) Act, of 1972 was passed. 
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) notified the United Nations General Assembly in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case that Pakistan had breached the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying Jadhav access to consular procedures. 
  • Pakistan had falsely claimed in the lawsuit that anyone suspected of espionage was exempt from the treaty. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also observed that Pakistan had violated the convention’s obligations by notifying the Indian consulate of Jadhav’s arrest almost three weeks after his arrest.


In conclusion, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is a comprehensive international agreement that regulates diplomatic relations and places special emphasis on the value of diplomatic immunity, the inviolability of diplomatic premises and archives, and other fundamental elements of diplomatic practice. The great majority of nations have ratified and extensively observed it, which helps to maintain the stability of international relations.