Abbildungen der Seite

There is no rule as to what class of representative shall be sent from one country to another. This is left for each country to determine for itself; each country sends to another country, however, the same grade of representative which it receives from such country.



The duties of a foreign minister are not susceptible of exact enumeration. In general, it may be said, that such an official represents the interests of his state, and the subjects of such state. It is his duty to keep his government informed on all questions which may affect the relations between the two countries.


Foreign ministers are appointed by the executive department of the government which they represent. The selection of foreign ministers rests with the country sending them, but the country to which they are sent may refuse to receive any minister who is personally objectionable to the government of such country.

A Minister may be re-called at any time by the country sending him, and the country to which he is sent has the right to demand his re-call. The declaration of war between two countries is either accompanied or preceded by the withdrawal of the ministers of both countries.


Foreign ministers are exempt from both the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the country to which they

are accredited.

The most that the Government to which they are accredited can ordinarily do is to request their recall, leaving the question of their punishment to their own country. If, however, a foreign minister conspires to overthrow the government to which he is accredited, he may be arrested and held until he can be sent out of the country. This was decided in what is known as Gyllenborg's Case.

"On the 29th of January, 1717, the government of England having certain information of a conspiracy to invade the country and dethrone the king contrived by Gyllenborg, the ambassador of Sweden, at that time at peace with Great Britain; they ordered the arrest of that minister, which was accordingly effected. General Wade and Colonel Blakeney, to whom the charge was entrusted, found him making up dispatches, which they told him they had orders to seize; and they even insisted upon searching his cabinet, which, upon the refusal of his lady to deliver his keys, they actually broke open. Gyllenborg complained of these proceedings, as a direct breach of the law of nations, and some of the foreign ministers at the court of London expressed themselves to the same effect; upon which the secretaries of state, Methuen and Stanhope, wrote circular letters to them, to assign reasons for the arrest, which satisfied them all except Monteleone, the Spanish ambassador, who in his answer observed that he was sorry no other way could be fallen upon for preserving the peace of the kingdom, than that of the arrest of a public minister, and the seizure of his papers, which are the repositories of his secrets, two facts which seemed sensibly to wound the law of nations. The observation, however, answers itself; since the confession that there was no other way, proves that this extremity

was the simple consequence of those universal laws which ever will and must overcome all other; I mean legitimate necessity, and self-defense." 1

The same immunity attaches to the official suite of the minister, but it has been held not to apply in the case of the ambassador of a deposed sovereign,2 or of the brother of an ambassador.

This last point was decided in the case of Da Sa, when the brother of the Portuguese ambassador to England, was executed for murder.

"In 1653, Don Pantaleon Sa, brother to the Portuguese ambassador in England, quarrelled with an Englishman, Colonel Gerhard, about some matter in the new exchange; a scuffle ensued, in which Gerhard was severely wounded. The quarrel was renewed the next day, at the same place; but this time Sa came with fifty followers all armed to the teeth, with the deliberate intention of destroying his adversary. The result was, that many English were wounded, and one person (a Mr. Greenway) accidentally present, killed; that the Guards were called in, and fired upon by the Portuguese, several of whom they took to prison; the rest, with Sa, took refuge in the hotel of the Portuguese ambassador. The ambassador was afterwards required to deliver up others of the delinquents, which request he complied with, and his brother was among them. He interceded for his brother; but Cromwell resolved, if he could, to try him by the law of the land. He, therefore, consulted the most eminent of the professors of the civil law to settle how such a barbarous murder might be punished. But these disagreeing among themselves, he left the decision of the affair to a court of delegates,

1 Ward's Law of Nations, 11, 548. Case of Leslie, Bishop of Ross

(1571), Ward's Law of Nations, 11, 486.

consisting of the Chief Justice and two other judges, three noblemen, and three doctors of the civil law. Before these Sa was examined.

"At first he was supposed to be a colleague in the ambassy and he vaunted himself that he was the king's ambassador, 'and subject to the jurisdiction of no one else.' He was made, however, to produce his credentials, by which all that could be proved was that the king intended in a little time to recall his brother, and to give him a commission to manage his affairs in England. This being judged insufficient to prove he was an ambassador, he was, without any further regard to the privilege of that character, ordered, as well as all of the rest, to plead to the indictment.

"Such is the accurate statement of the affair till it came to a jury, as it appears from the account of Zouch, a civilian of eminence and himself a delegate in the cause.

"It is evident, from this account of the matter, and one of more authority can hardly be met with, that had Sa been actually ambassador, instead of forming a part of the suite, the proceedings against him would have been the same with those in the cases cited above. All, therefore, that can be fairly drawn from this precedent, as to the decision of the then existing law of England, is that the suite of an ambassador, if they committed murder, were liable to be tried for it by the courts of the country. Zouch asserts expressly, that his own opinion upon the main question agreed with that of Grotius, and the best authors, as to the exemption of ambassadors themselves; and it should appear from his Solutio Quaestionis, that if Sa could have proved that he was an

actual ambassador, his plea before the delegates would have been allowed.'

Neither an ambassador nor any of his suite can be prosecuted for any debt or contract in the country to which they are accredited, but although 'a public minister who engages in trade, in the country to which he is accredited, does not thereby forfeit the privileges and immunities accorded to diplomatic agents, when he voluntarily appears in compliance with a writ, and submits himself to the jurisdiction, the court will not interfere for his relief." 5


Consuls occupy a very different position from that of ambassadors and other public ministers. The office is a much older one, and its duties are confined to matters relating to commercial interests.

The history of this office is thus given by Davis in his recent work on International Law:

"Consuls are persons appointed by the government of a state to represent its commercial interests, and those of its subjects in the principal ports of other nations.

"The practice of maintaining consular representatives in foreign ports and commercial cities dates back to the very beginning of modern commerce. It was developed among the commercial cities of the Mediterranean, and grew out of the exigencies and necessities of their intercourse with the Levantine cities, whose forms of government and systems of

• Ward's Law of Nations, 11, 537. Case of the Ambassador of Peter the Great (1708), Blackstone's Commentaries, Book 1,Chapt.7.

Taylor vs. Best, 14 Common
Bench, 487.

• Davis on International Law,
pages 211-12.

« ZurückWeiter »