In the course of its first session, in 1949, the International Law Commission selected diplomatic intercourse and immunities as one of the topics for codification without, however, including it in the list of topics to which it gave priority. At its fifth session, in 1953, the Commission was apprised of General Assembly resolution 685 (VII) of 5 December 1952, by which the Assembly requested the Commission to undertake, as soon as it considered possible, the codification of diplomatic intercourse and immunities and to treat it as a priority topic.
At its sixth session, in 1954, the Commission decided to initiate work on the subject and appointed Mr. Sandström (Sweden) as Special Rapporteur. The Commission considered this topic at its ninth and tenth sessions, in 1957 and 1958, respectively. At its ninth session, the Commission adopted on first reading a set of draft articles with commentaries. The draft was circulated to Governments for comments. At its tenth session, in 1958, the Commission adopted the final draft on diplomatic intercourse and immunities with commentaries. In submitting this final draft to the General Assembly, the Commission recommended that the General Assembly recommend the draft to Member States with a view to the conclusion of a convention.
By resolution 1450 (XIV) of 7 December 1959, the General Assembly endorsed the recommendation of the Commission and decided to convene a conference of plenipotentiaries not later than the spring of 1961.
The United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities met at the Neue Hofburg in Vienna from 2 March to 14 April 1961. The conference was attended by delegates from eighty-one countries, seventy-five of which were Members of the United Nations and six of related agencies or parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The Conference set up a Committee of the Whole, to which it referred the substantive items on its agenda.
On 18 April 1961, the conference adopted the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (status), and an Optional Protocol concerning Acquisition of Nationality (status) and an Optional Protocol concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes (status). The Convention and Optional Protocols remained open for signature until 31 October 1961 at the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Austria and subsequently, until 31 March 1962, at United Nations Headquarters. They remain open for accession at any time by all Members of the United Nations or of any of the specialized agencies or Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State invited by the General Assembly to become a party. The Convention and the two Optional Protocols entered into force on 24 April 1964.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations codifies some of the rules that guide diplomatic relations between states. By providing an international legal framework for diplomatic intercourse, privileges and immunities, the Convention aims to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions as representing States. The functions of a diplomatic mission consist, inter alia, in representing the sending State in the receiving State; protecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals; negotiating with the Government of the receiving State; ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State; promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations. By providing this legal framework, the Convention aims to contribute to the development of friendly relations among nations, having in mind the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations, in particular those concerning the sovereign equality of States, the maintenance of international peace and security, and the promotion of friendly relations among nations.