|Statement by ZHOU Yong of the Chinese Delegation at the Sixth Committee of the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly on Item 77 Consideration of Effective Measures to Enhance the Protection, Security and Safety of Diplomatic and Consular Missions and Representatives|
New York, 23 October 2008
Diplomatic and consular missions shoulder the important responsibility of promoting friendly intercourses among countries and have a special role to play in international relations. Only when the normal functioning of diplomatic and consular missions are guaranteed will there be orderly diplomatic activities among States and effective maintenance of the world order. Therefore, it is in the common interests of all States to enhance the protection of diplomatic and consular missions and their personnel in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations as well as other relevant rules of international law, so as to ensure that they perform their functions properly.
Since the 61st session of the GA, attacks, harassments and damages targeting diplomatic and consular missions occurred from time to time, posing grave threats to the safety and security of the missions and their personnel and seriously disrupting their normal functioning. The Chinese delegation expresses its serious concern over this situation and strongly condemns all the attacks against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives.
The Chinese delegation would like to take this opportunity to make the following comments:
First, according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the receiving State has a special duty to protect the diplomatic and consular missions and their personnel and should take all appropriate steps to protect them from any attack. This is the core element of the law on diplomatic and consular relations.
The Chinese delegation has noticed that different States have different focuses in fulfilling the above mentioned obligation. Many States, including China, focus on taking vigorous preventive measures to prevent any threat against the safety and security of diplomatic and consular missions. Such measures include providing special security guards to diplomatic and consular missions on a perennial basis and maintaining frequent contacts with diplomatic and consular missions to timely keep them informed of anything that may affect their safety and security and to gather from them requests they may have in this regard. In the event of serious problems and during sensitive periods, adjustments and enhancement of security measures will be initiated promptly. There are some other States that focus on dealing with the aftermath, including sending officials to the scene after a diplomatic or consular mission is attacked, punishing the attackers and providing compensations to the victim State. The Chinese delegation believes that while post attack response is a necessary aspect of the responsibility of the receiving State, it is only when greater attention is given to taking concrete and vigorous preventive measures will the safety and security of diplomatic and consular missions be protected more effectively. Under the two Vienna Conventions, the special duty of the receiving State of protecting diplomatic and consular missions is first and foremost the responsibility to prevent.
Secondly, the receiving States should adopt legislative, administrative and judicial measures to develop and improve the system for investigation and prosecution on acts that endanger the safety and security of diplomatic and consular missions and their personnel, and ensure that these harmful acts are offensive or criminalized in their domestic laws, so that the perpetrators could be duly punished. Tolerance, laissez-faire or leniency towards these harmful acts are tantamount to connivance, which will jeopardize not only the interests of the sending States and the common interests of the international community, but ultimately also the interests of the receiving States themselves.
Thirdly, the receiving States should be held liable for failing to fulfill their obligations under the two Vienna Conventions. In March and April of this year, Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in some countries were subjected to organized violent attacks by perpetrators. Some of our diplomatic and consular mission premises were set on fire; some were broken into and damaged and even had their compound walls pushed down. Some of our diplomatic and consular personnel were physically attacked and injured. The Chinese delegation strongly condemns such acts. After these incidents occurred, the States concerned sent officials to the scene to deal with the aftermaths and made compensations to the Chinese government. For some time thereafter, security measures were strengthened to enhance protection. The Chinese delegation appreciates these steps. However, I want to reiterate that for the effective protection of diplomatic and consular missions, the development and improvement of effective preventive measures are as important as stopping and punishing relevant crimes. The responsibility to prevent is also an indispensable aspect in the comprehensive fulfillment by States of their international legal obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.