Persona non grata

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Persona non grata (Latin, plural: personae non gratae, also abbreviated PNG), literally meaning "an unwelcome person," is a term used in diplomacy with a specialised and legally defined meaning. The opposite of persona non grata is persona grata.


[edit] Diplomacy

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Article 9, a receiving State may "at any time and without having to explain its decision" declare any member of a diplomatic staff persona non grata. A person so declared is considered unacceptable and is usually recalled to his or her home nation. If not recalled, the receiving State "may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission."

While diplomatic immunity protects mission staff from prosecution for violating civil and criminal laws, depending on rank, under Articles 41 and 42 of the Vienna Convention, they are bound to respect national laws and regulations (amongst other issues). Breaches of these articles can lead to persona non grata being used to 'punish' erring staff. It is also used to expel diplomats suspected of espionage ("activities incompatible with their status"), or as a symbolic indicator of displeasure (e.g. the Italian expulsion of the Egyptian First Secretary in 1984). So-called "tit-for-tat" exchanges have occurred, notably during the Cold War. Notable recent occurrences include exchanges between the United States and Venezuela, the United States and Belarus, the United Kingdom and Russia, between Russia and Georgia, between the United States and Bolivia and between India and Pakistan. In October 2008 Serbia expelled ambassadors of Montenegro and the Republic of Macedonia. In November 2008 Serbia also expelled the ambassador from Malaysia. In March of 2009, President Evo Morales of Bolivia declared a member of the US embassy (political division) persona non grata[1].

The Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 included the list of 150 personae non gratae of Turkey, which forbade the entry of mainly a group of former Ottoman Empire officials and about 100 other persons to Turkey, until the lifting of this status in 1938.

Kurt Waldheim, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and President of Austria, and his wife were given personae non gratae status in the U.S. and other countries when he was accused of having known about Nazi war crimes and not having done anything about them.[2]

In 1995, Croatia declared Carl Bildt a persona non grata announcing that he had "lost the credibility necessary for the role of a peace mediator". Bildt had suggested that the President of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman was as guilty of war crimes as the Krajina Serb leader, Milan Martić.[3]

In 2008, President of Bolivia Evo Morales declared U.S. Ambassador Phillip Goldberg persona non grata, claiming that the U.S. government conspired against him and supported his opponents.[4]

In January 2009 following diplomatic tensions between Venezuela and Israel after Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, Israel ordered Venezuelan diplomats to leave the country, declaring them "persona non grata in Israel".[5]

[edit] Non-diplomatic usage

In non-diplomatic usage, calling someone persona non grata is to say that he or she is ostracized, so as to be figuratively nonexistent. In police circles, this often meant any officer who broke the Blue Wall by informing against fellow officers, e.g. testifying against officers who were corrupt. Frank Serpico was one real life example, while cultural examples were Paul Newman's character in Fort Apache, The Bronx when he told on a fellow officer that he saw throw an unarmed man off a rooftop during a riot.

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