The Application of Jus Cogens to Recent Diplomatic Wranglings Between States

by Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai

Recently, there have been diplomatic rows between some Sovereign states and some International Organizations, to wit: The Russian Federation and the Government of the Netherlands; the Russian Federation and the Greenpeace Movement; The Republic of Kenya and the International Criminal Court; The Republic of Haiti and the United Nations Organization.

The fundamental purposes of the principles of jus cogen are to adroitly and strictly apply its rules in international disputes. Where this is successfully done, the rule of international justice will override the use of force.

In the Declaration on the Rights and Duties of States, every State is bound to respect international law, the applicable Conventions, Declarations and Treaties in vogue.

In the diplomatic row between the Russian Federation and the Government of the Netherlands, the applicable, regulatory rules of jus cogens are embedded in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Practice of 1963.

Both the Preambles and Articles 1 of the above-named Conventions have spelt out in detail, the norms regulating the diplomatic behavior of sovereign states.

In part, states must respect the territories of embassies located in their territories.

The diplomatic mission cannot be entered into except with the permission of the Head of Mission that is, the Ambassador or the Consular- General.
Since the diplomat represents his Head of State, he cannot be subjected to humiliation and degrading treatment.

He may be declared “persona non grata”and be given safe conduct out of the state, where he carries out his diplomatic functions.

Therefore, beating up a Russian diplomat in The Hague, is as wrong as the retaliatory stance adopted in Russia.

Two internationally wrongful acts are yet to make a right. Little drops of provocation make diplomatic relations grow cold.

The Greenpeace Movement overreached itself by illegally boarding a ship belonging to the Russian Federation, whether in territorial waters or the open sea.

They were not pirates’ jure gentium but political agitators. They should be freed under the political offence doctrine.(See the case of Haya Dela Torres and Others.)

The Republic of Kenya is a Sovereign, independent State. Its President has Sovereign immunity, as long as he is Head of State. He cannot be tried at an institution that has no jurisdiction over Heads of States

The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta is under international law, an internationally protected person under the Convention of the United Nations and should never have appeared in the ICC, which seems to serve purposes remote from justice by any definition.

I call for total withdrawal by African states from the Treaty of Rome and they should refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Article 3 (a-e) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1963, confers on diplomats immunities and privileges and by extension Heads of States.

To try a sitting Head of State is to try his state and its citizens, which is an anomalous situation which is unacceptable and preposterous.

The Republic of Haiti should appreciate the fact the UN went to Haiti, with good intentions. It was inadvertent that the cholera disease manifested.
It is only those United Nations officials, who died or became incapacitated during their mission, who have a right to full and adequate compensation. See the Case of Count Bernadotte, who died in 1948 in Palestine, while on a UN diplomatic mission.

The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations confers on UN experts and officials sweeping privileges and immunities in order to enable them perform their functions in member states of the UN.

Article 18 (a-g) and Article V1, Section 22, (a-f) contains detailed provisions, which stress the jurisdictional authority of the United Nations.
These cases are sketchy outlines; a more comprehensive treatment of each case has been included in my book entitled, “Commentaries on International Law and Diplomacy,” Volume 1, publishers, Authorhouse Publishing Company, Bloomington, Indiana, USA.

I think that the application of rules of international law and diplomatic law as a deterrent to those politicians, who frequently resort to threats of the use of force, based on subjective opinion of how the world should be governed according to their state philosophy and disposition, which ignore international legal postulations.

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