Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomats from other countries living in the U.S. enjoy a certain level of immunity from local laws, e.g. they can park wherever they want, damn the tickets. Whether diplomats choose to use the privilege seems to have a direct correlation to corruption levels in their home countries. The Economist on parking tickets issued to U.N. diplomats living in New York:

For instance, between 1997 and 2002 diplomats from Chad averaged 124 unpaid parking violations; diplomats from Canada and the United Kingdom had none. The results from 146 countries were strikingly similar to the Transparency International corruption index, which rates countries by their level of perceived sleaze. In the case of parking violations, diplomats from countries with low levels of corruption behaved well, even when they could get away with breaking the rules. The culture of their home country was imported to New York, and they acted accordingly.

But the sword of immunity cuts both ways – American diplomats in London have apparently stopped paying the congestion charge for bringing a car into central London, racking up unpaid charges of $.75 million as of August. If the “corruption levels of home country” theory/pattern holds, what does that say?

Music: Otis Redding :: Pounds And Hundreds

2 Replies to “Diplomatic Immunity”

  1. Outside the US, it’s common knowledge that the US has the most Corrupt Government in the developed world.
    There are plenty of equally corrupt nations, but they don’t have the resources that the US have at their disposal.
    Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

  2. I read in two sources that it’s closer to $1.6 million.

    But this story is really about Ken Livingstone (London’s mayor) taking on US hegemony. If a) the State Department has consistent policies which govern diplomatic missions abroad, and b) the US does pay congestion fees in other countries (Singapore?), then c) the London fee must be structured in a way that it falls into a diplomatic immunity box.

    Dan, come on – the “most corrupt government in the developed world”? If this is corruption, I don’t ever want to be honest!

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