[Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - (consulate)

Allan Mustard allan at mustard.net
Fri Oct 26 17:08:49 UTC 2018

Colin, et al,

Thanks for this.  You have not misunderstood the doctrine at all, but
you have not quite taken it to its full conclusion.  The examples you
cite involve interaction between the embassy and the outside world
(pizza delivery, lease contracts, employment contracts of local staff,
radio transmitters, and diplomatic vehicles maneuvering on host-country
roads).  Radio (wireless) is specifically covered in the Vienna
Convention because radio waves propagate beyond the boundaries of the
embassy.  That said, if a murder is committed on embassy premises, the
sending side has jurisdiction (in the case of the United States, the
Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the U.S. Department of State).  Once
the lease is signed, the embassy cannot be evicted even if the rental
payment is not paid (for a similar issue see this news item
about a derelict embassy building in Washington, DC).  Once the embassy
chancery is constructed, if the sending side decides to renovate the
interior of the embassy, it is done in accord with sending-side
construction standards, not necessarily host-country standards.  No,
pizza is not considered an export, but it is an item of trivial value
akin to the duty-free bottle of fine single malt Scotch I brought back
from Dubai two weeks ago; however, if I import 1,250 pounds of
consumables via sea freight, they enter the host-country import
statistics.  Regarding personnel, host-country personnel must be hired
and paid in accord with host-country law in most cases, though in many
countries embassies pay in dollars despite host-country laws requiring
payment in local currency and cite extraterritoriality as the legal
grounds for this.  Sending side personnel (like me) are hired, paid, and
fired in accord with sending side rules, period.  And yes, we pay fines,
but we don't pay taxes.  Please note that immunities and
extraterritoriality are defined not only in the Vienna Convention at
this point but also by court precedents established over the past 57
years, which is one reason the Department of State has a large staff of

As to why the .gov top-level domain is used only by government bodies in
the United States, that's because Al Gore DARPA invented the internet
and DARPA is a U.S. institution, so we got first dibs, that's all.  Many
other governments use their two-byte country top-level domain with
either go. or gov. in front of it, e.g., go.jp for the Japanese
government, gov.uk for the UK government, and so on.  In response to
some of the comments, a) no, that doesn't mean the U.S. government is
the only government, and I never said that; b) yes, these gov.xx and
go.xx domains are used for embassies' and consulates' e-mail and
websites, and c) the point I'm trying to make is that embassies and
consulates are government offices, even if not of the host
country--their staff are government employees, their budgets come from a
government somewhere, and their property is government property. 

I believe we are approaching some sort of consensus that amenity=embassy
is not adequate and that something needs to be done to correct this. 
Are we in agreement that

a) consulates are not embassies;
b) embassies and consulates are government offices, but there is no
agreement that office=government is appropriate;
c) neither is an amenity;
d) office=diplomatic is a reasonable option that while not utterly
precise is close enough (I don't love it but can live with it), and that
in tandem with diplomatic=[embassy, consulate, etc.] would meet OSM

We're only five days into the RFC so lots of time left to comment!

Allan Mustard

On 10/26/2018 1:28 PM, Colin Smale wrote:
> On 2018-10-26 03:26, Allan Mustard wrote:
>> Under the legal doctrine of extraterritoriality, the embassy or
>> consulate is considered to be located in the sending country for
>> purposes of legal jurisdiction.  Extraterritoriality is virtually
>> unlimited in the case of an embassy; it is more limited in the case
>> of a consulate but still exists 
> Allan,
> That doesn't sound quite right. As I read the UN conventions, the
> diplomatic staff have some immunities which are linked to their
> personal status and not linked to their being in the embassy
> buildings. The premises themselves are inviolable by the host state,
> which means local laws sometimes cannot actually be enforced without
> invitation from the Ambassador. However, the embassy as a premises is
> still part of the receiving country. Delivering pizza to them is not
> an export. The lease contract is under the laws of the host country.
> Employment contracts for support staff can be under the law of
> the host country. Their radio transmitters need to be licensed by the
> host country. Diplomatic cars have to pay speeding fines and parking
> tickets. But in the case of violations, the only sanction available to
> the host country is basically withdrawal of recognition of diplomatic
> staff.
> Have I misunderstood your interpretation of "extraterritoriality"
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