Persona non grata

For the 2003 documentary film, see Persona Non Grata (2003 film). For the 2015 historical drama film, see Persona Non Grata (2015 film).

In diplomacy, the term persona non grata (Latin, plural: personae non gratae), literally meaning "person not appreciated", refers to a foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country's government. It is the most serious form of censure which one country can apply to foreign diplomats, who are otherwise protected by diplomatic immunity from arrest and other normal kinds of prosecution. Persona non grata can also refer to "A person without standing" in the matters at hand, legal or otherwise.


Under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 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".[1]

With the protection of 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. Breaches of these articles can lead to a persona non grata declaration being used to punish erring staff. It is also used to expel diplomats suspected of espionage (described as "activities incompatible with diplomatic status") or any overt criminal act such as drug trafficking. The declaration may also be a symbolic indication of displeasure. So-called "tit for tat" exchanges have occurred, notably during the Cold War. A notable occurrence was an exchange between the United States and Ecuador in 2011. The Ecuadorian Government expelled the United States ambassador, as a result of diplomatic cables leaking (WikiLeaks). The United States responded by expelling the Ecuadorian ambassador.[2]

Non-diplomatic usage

In non-diplomatic usage, referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that he or she is ostracized. Such a person is for all intents and purposes culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively non-existent.

In police circles, this term is often applied to an officer who breaks the blue wall of silence by informing against fellow officers. Examples include Frank Serpico of the NYPD, who in 1971 famously testified against his corrupt fellow officers, and Ted Briseno, who testified against fellow LAPD officers after the Rodney King incident over 20 years later.

In one particular military usage, Cavalry Officer James Hewitt was declared persona non grata at his former barracks after he had revealed that he had slept with Diana, Princess of Wales.

See also


  1. "Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations". eDiplomat. Article 9. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  2. "US Expels Ecuadorian ambassador". 8 April 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2011.

External links

Look up persona non grata in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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