Associate professor, PhD at the Department of Diplomatic Service and Communication of the Faculty of International Relation of YSU

Special missions, or special envoys, are persons sent abroad to conduct diplomacy with a limited purpose for a limited time. Their employment was the normal manner of conducting relations between friendly rulers until resident diplomacy began to take root during the late fifteenth century, and advances in air travel led to its resurgence for this purpose in the anxious days preceding and following the outbreak of World War II; since then the resurgence has been spectacular. Special missions are particularly valuable to the diplomacy between hostile states, not least in breaking the ice between them - as when the American national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, flew secretly to Beijing, the capital of the PRC, in July 1971. What are the advantages of special missions used in the absence of diplomatic relations? How are they variously composed? When should they be sent in public, and when in secret?

The advantages of special missions
Special envoys come in many guises, but they all have some characteristics in common, including a common legal regime. It is possible, therefore, to identify the advantag
es that all of them share, and it is as well to do this to begin with.
The employment of special envoys in diplomacy between hostile states has numerous benefits, whether they are designed to supplement activity by disguised embassies or play a larger role in their absence:

1. First, they provide maximum security for the secrecy of a message, which, in the circumstances, might be of considerable sensitivity; in this respect their function is identical to that of a diplomatic courier.

2. Second, their use to bear a message underlines the importance attached to it by the sending state, and makes it more likely that it will command respect.

3. Third, because special envoys will generally be in closer touch with opinion at home, they are well placed to make a concession if this should be required.

4. Fourth, the members of special missions usually have some special knowledge.

The procedures of special missions and the privileges and immunities of their members were clarified and marginally reinforced in the second half of the twentieth century. The Convention on Special Missions adopted by the UN General Assembly on 8 December 1969, which was unfinished business for the ILC in the codification and development of diplomatic law, entered into force on 21 June 1985, albeit with a narrow base of support, because it was seen as a Third World instrument. It made clear that special missions can be sent even though neither diplomatic nor consular relations exist between the states concerned. It also stated that the privileges and immunities given to the members of such a mission are identical with those given to the staff of regular embassies in the VCDR, 1961, except the two main regards: first, the inviolability of the premises temporarily occupied by them is qualified by a ‘fire clause’, as with consulates; and, second, the prior agreement of the receiving state must be obtained to both the size and - as with interests sections - named members of a special mission.
2420 reads | 23.09.2013

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