"… 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)
Respect for local laws and regulations
The purpose of privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to enable Missions to perform their functions efficiently on behalf of their respective States. Agents accredited to France must therefore refrain from claiming those immunities in order to try to shirk their duty to respect the laws and regulations of the French State.
Any contractual obligation entered into with businesses or individuals has the force of law between the parties and must necessarily be honoured. This is the case, for instance, as regards the payment of rent and related expenses or of debts owed to providers of services.
It is imperative to abide by the rules of the Highway Code.
- Individuals given parking tickets in the event of illegal parking are invited to pay the fines they have incurred.
- Vehicles may be towed away to ensure the safety of users of public highways and to eliminate risks of parking infringements. In this case, the amount paid for the return of the vehicle will not be reimbursed under any circumstances.
- Drink-driving is an offence which, under general law, carries criminal sanctions. For safety reasons, drivers enjoying diplomatic status are advised to agree to undergo a breath test if requested to do so by a police officer.
Certain forms of behaviour are incompatible with the functions exercised by members of Missions (trouble with neighbours, disrespectful attitudes, breach of the rules of courtesy, etc.).
In the event of serious or repeated infringements, Protocol Department will be brought to take various measures ranging from a simple warning to a declaration of persona non grata.
Waiver of immunity
Instances of waiver of immunity are provided for by the Vienna Conventions. The receiving or sending State may regularly and expressly waive the immunity from jurisdiction of its collaborator without having to obtain his/her agreement. Waiver of immunity from jurisdiction does not systematically entail waiver of immunity from execution for which a separate and express waiver is required.
"Persona non grata"
The French State may, at any time, declare an agent non-acceptable on the French territory. This decision is binding on the receiving or sending State which is then required to recall the undesirable person and to ensure that he or she effectively leaves the territory.
The agent may be declared persona non grata before his or her arrival on French territory when his or her accreditation is unacceptable.
Updated : July 2012
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