Wed, 16 Jul 2003

Embassy land not sovereign

I refer to the letter by Brien Doyle that appeared in The Jakarta Post on July 10, concerning the refusal of Governor Sutiyoso to permit the construction of a protective fence on the premises of the U.S. Embassy, even after repeated requests from Ambassador Boyce.

Doyle states, "Let us not forget that the embassy is U.S. sovereign territory". If this statement is accurate, why would the embassy ask anyone for permission to build a wall anyway?

There is no precedent under international law that grants a "sovereign territory" status to embassies, not even for the United States.

It is a widespread misconception that a foreign embassy belongs to the territory of the representative nation. The only status given to embassies under international law concerns "premises of the mission, which are inviolable and agents of the receiving state may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission" (Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations).

Hence, His Excellency Boyce is well guided in applying to the City of Jakarta for consent to build such a wall, as permission is a requisite.