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Cablegate: Canada Downgrades Acceptance of Representatives To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary and action request. The Government of Canada
has instituted an "administrative change" in its
"acceptance" of diplomats representing their governments to
ICAO. The category of acceptance (permission to remain in
Canada) stamped in diplomatic passports has been downgraded
from "diplomatic" to "international." The unilateral
change, for which no reason has been given, has angered
Permanent Representatives to ICAO and has already resulted
in at least one dispute involving a diplomat who was turned
away from the diplomatic line at Dorval Airport. The GOC
has written to ICAO assuring that diplomatic privileges and
immunities (Ps and Is) remain unchanged. The Secretary
General will be meeting with a GOC protocol officer on this
matter the week of March 28th. US Mission requests a
Department reaction as soon as possible so it may feed US
input to the Secretary General and to the Canadian
Representative (in his host country capacity) in time for
the meeting. Department may also wish to consider a
demarche to the GOC in Ottawa and in Washington. End
summary and action request.

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2. At the March 9 meeting of the ICAO Council, the
Ethiopian Permanent Representative announced that he had
recently applied for a new diplomatic visa. As required by
ICAO's host country agreement, he submitted his application
through ICAO's Office of External Relations (OER). When his
passport came back, instead of having "diplomatic" stamped
as his category of acceptance by the GOC, it was marked
"International." He wanted to know if there had been an
amendment to the host country agreement and if so, what this
meant for his diplomatic status and privileges. If there
had been no amendment, he asked how the GOC had the right to
unilaterally change the status notified by the Government of
Ethiopia from "diplomatic" to "international." A number of
other delegates complained about the recent use of the
"international" acceptance for their passports.

3. The Secretariat responded that ICAO had been advised by
the GOC last Fall that an administrative change had taken
place affecting the category of acceptance, but this would
not affect the Ps and Is enjoyed by Representatives assigned
to ICAO. Delegates demanded to know why the OER had never
informed member states. The Secretary General promised to
get back to the Council with more information.

4. On March 11, the SyG explained the following: On
October 27, 2004, the GOC had sent a letter to ICAO stating
that as of that date, all diplomats accredited to ICAO would
be categorized as "international." In December, ICAO
requested clarification of the term "international," and was
told that there was no difference between the diplomatic and
international categories. The Ps and Is enjoyed by the
diplomats would not change. On February 9, 2005, the SyG
wrote to Canada's Chief of Protocol expressing concern and
asking for a return of the diplomatic stamp for
Representatives to ICAO. The GOC refused the request in
writing. On March 10 the Canadian Office of Protocol sent
ICAO another letter reaffirming that there would be no
change in privileges under the headquarters agreement, and
informing that all airports and agencies had been instructed
that Representatives to ICAO should be treated as diplomats
when they enter the country. The letter also said that if
representatives encountered problems at the border, the
Canadian Office of Protocol might be willing to re-examine
the matter.

5. Quoting from the host country agreement, which grants
diplomats to ICAO the same Ps and Is as those accorded to
bilateral missions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic
Relations, Spain informed the Council that one of his
colleagues had already been stopped from going through the
diplomatic line at Dorval airport and was permitted access
only after a lengthy debate with the Canadian official.

6. India, Chile, Australia, Peru, South Africa, Russia,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Colombia, Honduras, Pakistan
and Ethiopia also intervened to complain about the change.
They argued: Their governments had notified them as
diplomats but the GOC had relegated them to a lesser status;
it was inaccurate and confusing to categorize
representatives to ICAO as international civil servants; the
diplomats would now have to carry a letter from Protocol in
addition to their passports to prove that they receive
diplomatic Ps and Is and there was no guarantee that a
border bureaucrat would accept the letter; since the GOC had
not negotiated a change in the host country agreement, the
GOC was not in a position to change the categorization of
diplomats to ICAO. They all wanted to know why ICAO hadn't
advised the Council of the change that had been made five
months earlier. Egypt demanded a legal analysis of whether
the GOC was within its rights absent renegotiation of the
host country agreement. The Director of the Legal Bureau,
quoting Article 12 of the host country agreement, said that
as long as ICAO representatives receive the same Ps and Is
as diplomats under the VCDR, there was no violation. He
added, however, that ICAO would have to monitor the
practical consequences of this change. When the OER
acknowledged that bilateral diplomats continued to receive a
diplomatic stamp in their passports, while representatives
to ICAO were now getting the same stamp as ICAO secretariat
officials at the P-4 level and above, some delegations said
this proved that, contrary to GOC assurances, there really
were two different classes of diplomats serving in Canada.

7. Action Request. The Secretary General reported that
Canada's Office of Protocol would be sending a
representative to Montreal the week of May 28th to discuss
this issue. Mission requests the Department's opinion on
this matter before then so that we may provide the Secretary
General with additional input for his meeting. Depending
upon the Department's analysis, it may also wish to consider
a demarche to Ottawa and to the Canadian Embassy in
Washington prior to the ICAO-GOC meeting.


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