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What is Protecting Power?

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

What is Protecting Power?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: What is protecting power? Vienna Convention?

Context: Following the killing of Iranian military and intelligence commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in a drone attack carried out by the United States, the Iranian government registered its protest with the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

Why Switzerland?

Switzerland represents the interests of the US in Iran. This is because the US itself does not have an embassy there.

Iran’s interests in the United States, on the other hand, are represented by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.

 How can one country represent another country?

In an arrangement such as this, Switzerland is the “Protecting Power” of the United States’ interests in Iran.

The instrument of Protecting Powers is provided for under the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations.

 What the Vienna rules say?

1961 Vienna Convention states, if diplomatic relations are broken off between two States, or if a mission is permanently or temporarily recalled, the sending State may entrust the protection of its interests and those of its nationals to a third State acceptable to the receiving State.

And the 1963 Convention reiterates: “A sending State may with the prior consent of a receiving State, and at the request of a third State not represented in the receiving State, undertake the temporary protection of the interests of the third State and of its nationals.”

Roles of Protecting power:

In the absence of diplomatic and consular relations of the United States of America with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as the Protecting Power of the USA in Iran since 21 May 1980. The Swiss Embassy’s Foreign Interests Section provides consular services to US citizens living in or travelling to Iran.

The United States government describes the same role on a web page on the “US Virtual Embassy” in Iran.

Sources: the Hindu.