Deutsche Welle interviewed Hague Institute Senior Researcher Dr. Aaron Matta in Ukrainian about the damages caused to diplomatic property during protests near the Russian embassy in Kiev. The protests were in support of Nadya Savchenko, an Ukrainian political prisoner held in Russia.
“In accordance with the Vienna Convention the host country is under special obligation to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises diplomatic mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent disturbance of accredited mission. In these cases – it is Ukraine, which has a commitment to protect the Russian mission”
Dr. Aaron Matta
For English readers: Dr. Aaron Matta addressed the following questions: From the international law point of view what could you say about such violent acts against diplomatic representations? And how Ukrainian authorities must have reacted on these acts? Who should repay the damage?
Response from Dr. Aaron Matta: These issues are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations of 1961. Under Article 22 of this Convention, the receiving State (in this case Ukraine) is under 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 of the sending State (Russia). The Kiev Police already announced they will open a criminal investigation preliminary described as hooliganism. I do not know what is the specific practice regarding compensation for damages for Russia or Ukraine.
However in general, state practice shows a very strong tendency for receiving states to pay compensation to sending states even where no breach of the duty to protect against damage to their mission premises is established or admitted. But this varies of course, in some cases is based on reciprocity. Nonetheless, for such minor damages in this case (i.e. diplomatic cars being damaged) compensation is usually payed when damages are not covered by insurance, when caused for political reasons.
The issue of financial compensation of damages caused in such situations can have their own specifics. “In general practice shows that the host country pays compensation to the accredited state, even in cases where no violation of the obligation to protect the mission from damage,” said Dr. Matta. He noted that in many cases countries decide bilaterally on the basis of mutual agreement. In cases of minor damage compensation is paid if the damage is not covered by insurance. Damage suffered from or related to “political reasons” applies in these cases. Read further