Is attacking another country's embassy the same as attacking it directly? The Israel-Iran case

The embassies are the diplomatic representations of a country in the territory of another state and deal with political, cultural and economic relations as well as technical-administrative through consular offices, which are also part of the diplomatic network, for example protecting or defending the interests of citizens of their own country who are in another country. Attacking an embassy is a serious matter violation of the international law and of bilateral relations between the two countries involved, enjoying the embassies of inviolability. An attack on an embassy therefore constitutes a symbolic attack also to the country represented by the embassy itself.

L’Israeli attack with F-35 atIranian embassy Of Damascus of the April 1stwhich sparked the Iran’s military reactionwas strongly condemned by the international community precisely because of the gravity of the incident, given that embassies are the symbol of cooperation and negotiation between states and enjoy inviolability. But what are embassies for? What are immunity, inviolability and diplomatic protection?

What is an embassy and what is it for

L’embassywhose term derives from Latin ambactus (servant) and from which it derives ambactia (what is said through a third person), is the diplomatic representation of a – defined – country accrediting– in the territory of another State – said recipient or recipient – and includes the buildings and premises where the ambassador resides together with the diplomatic staff. Embassies and the appointment of ambassadors depend on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of a country and the Vienna Convention of 1961 it is the international treaty that regulates diplomatic relations. The embassy is therefore the place where a country exercises its own political activities and diplomats abroad in the territory of another state (usually the capital). L’ambassador he is the head of the diplomatic mission and, as such, he is the best representative of his country in the receiving State.

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what is embassy

In addition to political relations, embassies also take care of cultural relationships and economic-commercial with the host country through its offices responsible for these activities, encouraging trade exchanges and encouraging economic and scientific-cultural relations between the two parties. To these are also added activities development cooperation and humanitarian aid, especially in developing countries. Finally, through the consular officesembassies also deal with relations with citizens, for matters of nature administrative such as issuing visas, passports, identity cards, notarial deeds and other bureaucratic activities. For reasons of security and public order, an embassy can be closed and the ambassador recalled to his country of origin, becoming “persona non grata” in the event of a serious disagreement or clash between the two countries.

The immunity and inviolability of an embassy

The embassy, ​​as a representation of a state in the territory of another country, is a place that enjoys inviolability. Also the diplomatic agenttogether with the embassy staff, enjoys the so-called diplomatic immunity, as he cannot be detained or arrested in the territory of the receiving State, as it is not under its jurisdiction. Furthermore, without his consent, no one can access the premises of an embassy.

L’diplomatic immunity therefore includes l‘personal inviolability, L’home inviolability (therefore the ambassador’s residence), and theimmunity from civil and criminal jurisdiction. It is therefore clear that the attack on an embassy, ​​like the one that occurred in Syria by the Israeli air force, is also a symbolic attack on the territory of that State as well as a serious violation of international law.

inviolability immunity embassy

In addition to the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Damascus on April 1st, other cases of violation of an embassy on foreign territory have occurred in recent history: for example the attack on the US embassies in Beirut in 1983, and in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; right in Iran in 1979Furthermore, what has become known as “the hostage crisis”. In fact, during the Iranian revolution of 1979, a group of Iranians occupied thethe US embassy in Tehran holding 52 US diplomatic personnel hostage for approximately two years: from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.

The difference between consular and diplomatic protection

There protection and assistance to citizens of a State in foreign territory is divided into two types: the consular protection and the diplomatic protection. The consular system is the one that deals with the protection of the rights of its citizens abroad, providing them with assistance in case of need. In this case however, the State is not acting for a violation of international law and is acting a protection of its citizens following thelegal system of the Host country, for example in the event of arrest. It therefore has different characteristics compared to diplomatic protection: that is, it intervenes by supporting its citizens towards the host state by acting in their name.

attack embassy international crime

There diplomatic protection, on the contrary, it provides for the intervention of a State in favor of its citizen following an accident violation of international law carried out by another State. Diplomatic protection can only be granted to citizens of your own state and, in this case, it The State of origin considers itself the injured party and therefore acts in its name. Furthermore, the citizen requesting diplomatic protection must have already exhausted all other internal legal remedies before being able to access them and the State can decide at its own discretion whether to refuse or grant diplomatic protection.