Houston Journal of International Law
The protections afforded diplomats, diplomatic missions, and diplomatic bags have been misused to sponsor or commit various criminal acts. This strikes at the heart of traditional concepts of international diplomatic relations. Use of the diplomatic bag to import and export prohibited or illegal items is particularly concerning, and the most disconcerting abuses are those that use the diplomatic bag to facilitate acts of terrorism.
All malum in se acts that abuse this diplomatic shield are objectionable. As such, it is necessary to examine the current legal status of the diplomatic bag and recent international efforts to re-examine that status. Conflicts between the sending state’s confidentiality interests and the receiving and transit states’ security interests must be closely examined, and a the United States should formalize its position on the status of the diplomatic bag.
The United States must remember that laws are made for general application and not for exceptions. Sporadic abuses of the diplomatic bag must not cause abandonment of this longstanding and necessary tool, used in performing diplomatic relations and in carrying out of legitimate national interests.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, The Status of the Diplomatic Bag: A Proposed United States Position, 13 Hous. J. Int’l L. 221 (1990).