Is there any precedent for this?

We welcome interim President Guaido’s directive to all diplomatic missions in Venezuela that Venezuela intends to maintain diplomatic relations with all countries. The United States maintains diplomatic relations with Venezuela and will conduct our relations with Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido, who has invited our mission to remain in Venezuela. The United States does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela. Accordingly the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.

In other words, has it ever before happened that the person currently exercising governmental power (legitimately or not) in country X orders the ambassador of country Y to leave, and country Y responds by saying "You aren't legitimate, so you don't have the authority to tell our ambassador to leave. Our ambassador is staying." ?

  • 4
    That is a very good question. Usually, taking back diplomatic personel is the ultimate way to state you no longer recognise the legitimacy of a foreign government. This manoever seems to be a new, and not particularly wise, one. – Luís Henrique Jan 29 '19 at 10:21
  • 1
    Also, it really belongs on History.SE – user4012 Jan 29 '19 at 13:33
  • 1
    @user4012 - I think it can be on topic here, but it's a better fit (and more likely to get an answer) over there. – Bobson Jan 29 '19 at 13:37
  • 1
    It is a very bad fit for history because it is begging for purposive precedent in an undertheorised category. – Samuel Russell Jan 30 '19 at 6:27

So in terms of diplomatic relations, the host country (Here, Venezuala) can expel a diplomat of another country. This is normally done by the Head of State (in countries which have a separate Head of State and Head of Government) declaring the Ambassador "Person Non Grata" and kicking them out. When an ambassador is withdrawn from a host country by his/her appointing country (i.e. The USA) it's not symbolizing that the appointing country does not recognize the legitamant authority of the country, but rather, that the two countries' relationships have reached such a low point that they no longer wish to have diplomatic relations at all (Even then, this isn't a hard stop... Most countries that withdrawl and expel ambassadors will name a third nation as a Protecting Power to represent the interests of Nation A and Nation B. An example of this is that the U.S. and Iran have not had formal relations with each other since the Iranian Hostage Crisis, but the U.S. has named Switzerland as their Protecting Power in Iran, on the off chance a U.S. Citizen gets in trouble.).

What is going on here is a horse of a different color: Maduro has said that the U.S. Ambassador is "Person Non Grata" and is looking to expel him (or her). However, the United States is claiming that they do not recognize Maduro as the legitimate authority to expel an ambassador and thus the ambassador will continue the mission until the leader the U.S. does recognize decides to expel him.

The first question that this raises is can't the Venezuala military kill the U.S. Ambassador over this. Well, yes... but that's a very stupid idea as the United States Embassy is technically U.S. territory and if the military enters the property, the U.S. could use this action as a cause for war. Maduro can barely pay his army, and assuming he is a rational actor, he isn't about to just give the worlds largest military (which has also just happens to have a reputation for invading oil rich countries of late) a very legitiment reason to invade... And that's before we get to the buisness of his own military not being so loyal to him as to want to wage war on the U.S.

  • 4
    Embassies aren't actually extra-territorial. But entering them without permission does cause difficulties with a long list of multilateral treaties on international diplomacy. – origimbo Jan 29 '19 at 17:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .