University homepage


Contact Information
(Not for submissions):

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O.Box 42)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

phone +358-(0)9-191 23645
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615

Aleksanteri Conference







Jansons, Leo

"Segregation and Immunity of African Diplomats in the U.S. During the Presidency of John F. Kennedy: Another Sharp Edge of Cold War Ideological Struggle?"

During the presidency of John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) the particular domestic problem of the US - racial segregation and social negations linked to this practice, for some time became a subject of wider international interest and ideological polemics. The reason of such interest was quite unusual and logically determined in the same time: problems of racial discrimination of the newly founded Africa's state diplomats accredited to the US brought racial segregation - America's domestic problem to the new - international, level.

Suitable housing issues and another serious social problems, that African diplomats frequently faced while arriving in Washington D.C. and settling there, were directly linked to existing segregation of Afro American population, that, in some cases caused the violation of right of foreign diplomatic mission stuff as well. Inability to share foreign diplomats and local Afro American people via "face control" and lack of legal mechanisms that could help diplomats to struggle against self discrimination in "segregated social environment" of Washington D.C. and neighborhood areas, lead to social and political tension, which became visible not only within, but also outside America.

African diplomats and state officials initiated the discussion on these embarrassing problems in level of UN, complaining about America's double moral standards, that was soon caught up by Soviet political propaganda. The segregation issue was widely criticized by Soviet political elite and mass media in late 1950s and early 1960s, and this critical campaign highlighted a new sharp edge of Cold War ideological battle against concept of "perfectly democratic America".

In the paper analysis of African diplomats' immunity violation precedents based on historiography research, primary sources studies and international law theory interpretation will be presented, with an attempt to study these precedents and their domestic/international responses as another edge of Cold War propaganda struggle between the USSR and the US in the context of anti discrimination actions held by States Department Special Protocol Service and Attorney General's office in 1961-1963. The issues of methodological and logical correlation of segregation and Cold War ideological struggle concepts also will be presented and analyzed in the paper as a core of its theoretical background.

Friday 30 Oct 13.45-15.45 SESSION 5
Panel: When the War Turned Hot: Struggles and Ideology in the Third World