US Pulls Out of Optional Protocol to Vienna Convention

Thursday, March 10, 2005 In a two-paragraph letter from Condoleezza Rice to Kofi Annan, the United States has left the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes.

This treaty, which the United States remains within, gives foreign citizens the right to demand that they see a home-country diplomat when detained. The optional protocol, that the United States just left, puts disputes about those rights under the International Court of Justice.

State Department spokeswoman Darla Jordan said, "The International Court of Justice has interpreted the Vienna Consular Convention in ways that we had not anticipated that involved state criminal prosecutions and the death penalty, effectively asking the court [International Court of Justice] to supervise our domestic criminal system... [Withdrawal from the protocol is a way of] protecting against future International Court of Justice judgments that might similarly interpret the consular convention or disrupt our domestic criminal system in ways we did not anticipate when we joined the convention."