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Updated October 21st, 2023 at 15:12 IST

'No violation of Vienna Convention': India issues sharp rebuttal to Canada on exit of 41 diplomats

In a sharp rebuttal, the Ministry of External Affairs rejected that India violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a claim made by the Canada.

India-Canada diplomatic issue
India calls for parity in diplomatic presence amid Canada's allegations. | Image:AP
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In a sharp rebuttal, the Ministry of External Affairs rejected that India violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a claim made by the Canadian government on Thursday. The whole debacle started after Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly confirmed that Ottawa was following New Delhi’s order and removing 41 Canadian diplomats from India. The confirmation of departure followed two weeks of negotiation between India and Canada after New Delhi issued a demand for “parity” in the number of diplomats present in the two countries.

In a statement released on Friday, the Foreign Ministry lambasted the Trudeau administration and insisted that India’s action is fully consistent with 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. "We have seen the Statement by the Government of Canada on October 19 regarding Canadian diplomatic presence in India. The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa,” the ministry said on Friday. “We have been engaged with the Canadian side on this over the last month in order to work out the details and modalities of its implementation. Our actions in implementing this parity are fully consistent with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” the statement further reads.

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Quoting the aforementioned article the ministry vehemently rejected the claims made by Joly when she announced the withdrawal of the diplomats. The ties between the two nations deteriorated after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that Indian agents working with the Canadian government were involved in the assassination of pro-Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. New Delhi vehemently denied the allegations and called Trudeau’s statements “absurd”.

What did Joly say?

During a press briefing on Thursday, the Canadian Foreign Minister said that revoking the diplomatic immunity of Canadian officials and their families raises safety concerns. “The safety of Canadians and of our diplomats is always my top concern, given the implications of India’s actions on the safety of our diplomats,” Joly told reporters in Ottawa, Global News reported. She insisted that Canada would not retaliate, adding that doing so would be contrary to International law. “There is no reason under international law that would justify a country’s withdrawal of diplomatic immunity in this way overnight, and that includes the Vienna Convention,” Joly said. “This is why I’m saying that it sets a precedent,” she added.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Image: ANI

What is Vienna Convention?

According to the United Nations, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides a complete framework for the establishment, maintenance and termination of diplomatic relations on the basis of consent between independent sovereign States. It specifies the functions of diplomatic missions, the formal rules regulating appointments, declarations of persona non-grata of a diplomat who has in some way given offence, and precedence among heads of mission. The Article of the convention which was in question was Article 11.1 of the convention.

Thirteenth Session of the General Assembly, meeting of the Sixth Committee on Diplomatic intercourse and immunities, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 5 November 1958, Image: Audio Visual Library of International law

"In the absence of specific agreement as to the size of the mission, the receiving State may require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal, having regard to circumstances and conditions in the receiving State and to the needs of the particular mission,” the Article reads. In the Friday statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs justified its actions by citing this very article. The ministry went on to urge the Canadian government to not consider its intention to ensure parity, a violation of International law.

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Published October 20th, 2023 at 18:02 IST

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