A crowd of Iranian “protesters” has stormed the British embassy in Tehran today, following the adoption of a new law requiring the expulsion of the British ambassador.
Of course I’ve no proof that the “protests” are planned and directed by the Iranian government, but even to consider they might be spontaneous would I think break new ground in naivety. The Iranian authorities are not known for their soft tactics in dealing with protest that doesn’t align with its ideology.
Legally, though, they’ve a duty to stop what’s going on, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (to which the Islamic republic is a signatory), specifically article 22(2):
The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
Under article 45 this duty remains even where diplomatic relations are broken off or in more extreme circumstances:
The receiving State must, even in case of armed conflict, respect and protect the premises of the mission, together with its property and archives
Neither of those applies here, since Iran only plans to expel the ambassador – not to close the British embassy completely.
I dare say the Iranians will call this protest off as soon the damage is done and the message sent – and before denials of official connivance become laughable even to the pathologically credulous. But Britain’s right to protest strongly – and if this leads to any kind of ongoing violation, would be right too to take the matter to the International Court of Justice, in accordance with the optional protocol to the Convention, to which both countries are signatories.
The Iranian regime must really dislike the new sanctions being imposed by Britain, Canada and the US.
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