"… the purpose of … privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions as representing States," / " … of functions by consular posts on behalf of their respective States;" (Preambles of the VCDR, 1961 and of the VCCR, 1963)
Immunities are safeguards granted to Missions and their members to facilitate the functioning of the foreign official institution, to protect its premises and its agents against any interference or pressure. These advantages recognized under international law do not however exempt those enjoying them from respect for the laws and regulations of the receiving State (Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963, Articles 41 and 55).
These prerogatives are more or less extensive depending on the agent’s status and usually enjoyed solely by holders of special residence permits. French nationals, dual nationals possessing the French and a foreign nationality, and permanent residents may claim such prerogatives solely in the strict performance of their functions and are not entitled to any form of personal immunity.
The principles set out in this Vade Mecum describe what is generally standard practice in France. But it should again be pointed out that several receiving States have expressed reservations about the Vienna Conventions likely to alter or curtail the scope of some of their provisions in France’s relations with those States. The same is true for the provisions of a possible consular convention signed and ratified by the competent French authorities.
Moreover, application of the principle of reciprocity could have a bearing on relations between the sending State and the French State.
Updated : July 2012