Diplomat
Overview
 
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 to conduct diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 with another state or international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and friendly relations.

Diplomats are the oldest form of any of the foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 institutions of the state, predating by centuries foreign ministries, foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

s and ministerial offices.
The ranks of diplomats— ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

, envoy
Envoy
Envoy may refer to:*an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary*a Special Envoy*a diplomat in general*Envoy , the British Vauxhall cars for Canadian market in 1960-'70*Envoy , a document reader and document file format...

s, minister
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

s, and chargé d’affaires — are determined by international law, namely the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

 of 1961.

Diplomats can be contrasted with consuls
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

, attachés, who represent their state in a number of administrative ways, but who don’t have the diplomat’s political functions.
Diplomats in posts collect and report information that could affect national interests, often with advice about how the home country government should respond.
Encyclopedia
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 to conduct diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 with another state or international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and friendly relations.

Diplomats are the oldest form of any of the foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 institutions of the state, predating by centuries foreign ministries, foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

s and ministerial offices.

Terminology

The ranks of diplomats— ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

, envoy
Envoy
Envoy may refer to:*an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary*a Special Envoy*a diplomat in general*Envoy , the British Vauxhall cars for Canadian market in 1960-'70*Envoy , a document reader and document file format...

s, minister
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

s, and chargé d’affaires — are determined by international law, namely the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

 of 1961.

Diplomats can be contrasted with consuls
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

, attachés, who represent their state in a number of administrative ways, but who don’t have the diplomat’s political functions.

Function

Diplomats in posts collect and report information that could affect national interests, often with advice about how the home country government should respond. Then, once any policy response has been decided in the home country's capital, posts bear major responsibility for implementing it. Diplomats have the job of conveying, in the most persuasive way possible, the views of the home government to the governments to which they are accredited and, in doing so, to try to convince those governments to act in ways that suit home country interests. In this way, diplomats are part of the beginning and the end of each loop in the continuous process through which foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 is made.

In general, it has become harder for diplomats to act autonomously. Whereas in the past Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 could write to his Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

, "We have not heard from our Ambassador in Spain for two years. If we do not hear from him this year, let us write him a letter", secure communication systems, emails and mobile telephones can track down and instruct the most reclusive head of mission. The same technology in reverse gives diplomats the capacity for more immediate input about the policy-making processes in the home capital.

Secure email
E-mail encryption
Email encryption refers to encryption, and often authentication, of email messages, which can be done in order to protect the content from being read by unintended recipients....

 has transformed the contact between diplomats and the ministry. It is less likely to be leaked, and enables more personal contact than the formal cablegram
Cablegram
A cablegram, sometimes shortened to just cable, was a telegram, a text possibly encrypted, which was transmitted through the means of an electrical cable, underwater or aerial....

, with its wide distribution and impersonal style.

Advocacy

The home country will usually send instructions to a diplomatic post on what foreign policy goals to pursue, but decisions on tactics - who needs to be influenced, what will best persuade them, who are potential allies and adversaries, and how it can be done - are for the diplomats overseas to make.

In this operation, the intelligence, integrity, cultural understanding and energy of individual diplomats are critical. If they are any good at their jobs, they will have developed relationships grounded in trust and mutual understanding with influential members of the country in which they are accredited. They will have worked hard to understand the motives, thought patterns and culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 of the other side.

Negotiation

The diplomat should be an excellent negotiator but, above all, a catalyst for peace and understanding between peoples. The role is the principal element in the peaceful relations between states because its scope ends when the fighting starts war and could, at best, act simultaneously.

Training

Most diplomats have university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 degrees
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 in international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

, political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, or law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

Status and public image

Diplomats have generally been considered members of an exclusive and prestigious profession. The public image of diplomats has been described as "a caricature of pinstriped men gliding their way around a never-ending global cocktail party" J. W. Burton has noted that "despite the absence of any specific professional training, diplomacy has a high professional status, due perhaps to a degree of secrecy and mystery that its practitioners self-consciously promote." The state supports the high status, privileges and self-esteem
Self-esteem
Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

 of its diplomats in order to support its own international status and position.

The high regard for diplomats is also due to most countries' conspicuous selection of diplomats, with regard to their professionality and ability to behave according to a certain etiquette
Etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group...

, in order to effectively promote their interests. Also, international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 grants diplomats extensive privileges and immunities
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

, which further distinguished the diplomat from the status of an ordinary citizen.

Psychology

While posted overseas, there is a danger that diplomats may become disconnected from their own country and culture. Sir Harold Nicolson
Harold Nicolson
Sir Harold George Nicolson KCVO CMG was an English diplomat, author, diarist and politician. He was the husband of writer Vita Sackville-West, their unusual relationship being described in their son's book, Portrait of a Marriage.-Early life:Nicolson was born in Tehran, Persia, the younger son of...

acknowledged that diplomats can become "denationalised, internationalised and therefore dehydrated, an elegant empty husk".

Uniform

From about 1800 to after the Second World War, diplomats from most countries wore official uniforms at public occasions. Such uniforms are now retained by only a few diplomatic services, and are seldom worn.
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