Experiencing Technical Difficulties (resonant) wrote,
Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Embassies as climate-change refuges

Five of the Solomon Islands have disappeared, swallowed by the sea, while other islands have lost 20% of their surface area. Other island nations are facing the same concern.

Rising sea levels will shrink the livable area of some countries, while other countries (mostly Pacific island nations) may disappear completely.

So, what can the people in those countries do? Purchasing tracts of land from other countries is an option, but the mere mention of giving up sovereign territory would create political delays. Emigration is the obvious solution, except (as we see with Syria), many countries refuse to accept refugees. What could a country do, facing the drowning of its citizens?

A quick solution is for the drowning country to expand the size of its embassies in non-flooded countries.

Under international law, there is no limit to the allowable size of an embassy. Host countries are required to help the embassy find suitable land and accommodations to carry out its mission. Some embassies are already quite large - the US Embassy in Iraq has 15,000 employees, covering 42 hectares (104 acres). Using that as precedent, a drowning country could open similarly-sized embassies in each of nearly 200 countries, and appoint three million of its citizens as consular staff. Add in a dozen family members as part of each staff member's household, and the embassy population would be greater than Canada. The combined area of a country's embassies could be larger than Bermuda. Each staff member (and their families) would have assistance from the host country in finding tax-free living quarters, and could move about freely into and within the host country. Embassy staff (except for senior officials) and their families would be free to study or carry out "private gainful occupation" in the host country (although the host country would be allowed to tax that non-embassy income).

Long after some countries disappear beneath the waves, their citizens could be thriving in embassies safe on dry land around the world.


Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963

Article 30
1. The receiving State shall either facilitate the acquisition on its territory, in
accordance with its laws and regulations, by the sending State of premises necessary
for its consular post or assist the latter in obtaining accommodation in some
other way.
2. It shall also, where necessary, assist the consular post in obtaining suitable
accommodation for its members.

Article 32
1. Consular premises and the residence of the career head of consular post of
which the sending State or any person acting on its behalf is the owner or lessee
shall be exempt from all national, regional or municipal dues and taxes whatsoever,
other than such as represent payment for specific services rendered.

Article 34
Subject to its laws and regulations concerning zones entry into which is
prohibited or regulated for reasons of national security, the receiving State shall
ensure freedom of movement and travel in its territory to all members of the
consular post.
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