EU-Virginia Diplomacy

by Peter Spiro

Here is the letter of the EU Ambassador to the US to Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell protesting the (then) imminent execution of Teresa Lewis, among other international voices attempting to win commutation for the convicted killer.  Obviously the effort failed.  I’m not sure that there has been any episode in which one can establish a causal link between such international condemnation and a canceled execution (other than the Torres case, which of course involved a directly applicable ruling from the International Court of Justice).  (Ambassador Vale de Almeida also has this out to Governor Schwarzenegger, prompting a caustic response from one British columnist decrying EU arrogance — imagine how it will go over in Orange County.)

Two things about the letter’s form are interesting.  One is that the letter takes the form of a “demarche”.  I would have thought the term would be reserved for formal diplomatic exchanges at the national level.  (The Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual, a kind of how-to guide for U.S. diplomats, defines a demarche as “a formal diplomatic representation of one government’s official position, views, or wishes on a given subject to an appropriate official in another government or international organization.”)  So I wonder if this communication with a substate jurisdiction marks a new twist in diplomatic practice.

Second is the letter’s closing paragraph, stating the EU’s “respect” for the Commonwealth of Virginia and highlighting the “mutual benefit of the more than four hundred years of history that we share.”  The proverbial Martian would hardly be able to tell that Virginia is part of the United States!

2 Responses

  1. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar…

  2. And to make sure the executed is truly dead requires an execution doctor. This is controversial, with state medical associations threatening to take away physicians’ licenses to practice if they participate in state executions:

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