Archive | November, 2012

8. The ambassador’s role today

29 Nov

The ambassador’s role today

1. To properly exercise his function, the head of a diplomatic mission, in addition to being equipped with the usual knowledge and skills, should be properly informed about the situation in relations between the State he represents and the host State, and the results that his State intends to obtain from these relations as a whole and also on specific issues.

2. A foreign service delegated responsibility of the ambassador is to safeguard, protect and promote the image, reputation and interests of the sending State. It must be remembered also that the basic functions of the diplomatic mission are: representation, negotiation, observation and gathering information, and protection of nationals and interests of his country. His task is also to work for the fundamental development of economic (and trade), cultural and scientific relations, to promote cooperation, and essentially to maintain and strengthen the friendly relations between the two States.

3. The term “ambassador” has a very precise meaning. From an institutional and academic point of view in the field of diplomatic relations, the term is used to refer appropriately to the highest rank established in a diplomatic career. In a broader sense, the title of ambassador often has other implications, especially is he represents his country in an international organisation. However, strictly speaking the use of the rank of ambassador is appropriate only when supported by conventional standards and national legislation and according to established practices by public international law and diplomatic law.

4. In the field of bilateral relations, the representative of a State accredited to another is called the “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary,” which denotes his country sends him at the highest diplomatic level with full authority to act on behalf of his nation in the receiving State.

5. If an ambassador is accredited to two or more States, he is referred to as a “concurrent ambassador” for the special reasons that he has his headquarters in the country considered most important for the political, economic, or other interests of sending State. There is also the unusual “active multiple or joint accreditation” in bilateral diplomacy, in which two or more States may accredit the same person to a third State, unless the receiving State opposes it.

6. In the framework of multilateral diplomacy, (in the case of the UN or OAS) the chief of mission of a delegation is accredited as the “Ambassador Permanent Representative.”  The Alternate Representative is the diplomat who exercises the functions of chief of mission in an international organization in the absence of the head of permanent mission. An Ambassador Permanent Observer is head of a permanent observer mission accredited by his country to an international body to which it is not a member.

7. In the field of “ad hoc” diplomacy in special missions, there exists also the rank of ambassador. In these cases the officer designated to preside over a special mission is often accredited as “Ambassador Extraordinary Special Mission” or as “Ambassador at Large”, or as a “roving ambassador” when the special mission includes more than one State.

8. They are also diplomatic officials who have attained that rank of ambassadors in their diplomatic career and who are serving in their Foreign Ministry. There are also others who have served as ambassadors abroad and are temporarily serving in the Foreign Ministry. They often also occupy this position, if the domestic legislation of the country permits, as so-called political officials, who like the civil servants could be appointed to various positions in the Foreign Ministry.

9. Also, only for internal use, certain States under its law, have established categories of eminent ambassador emeritus, who are recognised for outstanding merit on different levels.

10. Alain Plantey, the prominent French jurist, summed up the task of an ambassador, thus:  “The ambassador must act with patience and firmness, with prudence and perseverance, not to be fooled by manoeuvres of distraction or intimidation.”

© by Odeen Ishmael


7. The Practice of Diplomacy

25 Nov

The Practice of Diplomacy

1. In the current international scene, foreign policy is a manifestation of the fundamental prerogatives of States. Diplomacy, as the executing channel of foreign policy, aims to harmonise the exercise of national powers with the objectives and aspirations of structuring and maintaining a fair, equitable and stable international order.

2. A peculiar feature of diplomacy is that it takes into account the image, reputation and interests of a State and integrates them properly through effective communication and action.

3. Diplomatic relations between States have a variable intensity and intimacy, and its progress is basically premised on mutual respect for the dignity of each other.

4. The functions of the ambassador evolve according to the interests and needs of the State he represents. In addition to attending to the traditional protocol matters, his activities now feature prominently in economic (trade and finance), scientific and cultural issues.

5. Whatever their point of application, as indicated by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the functions of diplomatic missions fall into four broad categories: representation, observation and data collecting, protection of the national interests of his State, and negotiation. Regarding the development of friendly and fruitful relations, and promoting essential cooperation, these are usually the purpose, or consequence, of all these activities.

6. Considered the first and oldest of the functions of the mission, the mission is, under the Treaty of Vienna, to represent the State and to accredit an ambassador to the receiving state. As a manifestation of official diplomatic communication, performance and commitment of the ambassador and the embassy is essential to be a genuine representative of the sending nation.

7. As noted by the Vienna Convention, members of the diplomatic staff of the mission shall, in principle, be citizens of the sending State. In exceptional circumstances, the members of the diplomatic staff of the mission who are nationals of the receiving State can only be appointed with the consent of that State which may be withdrawn at any time. The receiving State has the same right on nationals of a third State who are not also nationals of the sending State.

8. The acceptance of the receiving State of such exceptions (which sometimes also apply to legal residents of the territory), usually leads to a limitation or denial of privileges and immunities, which limits the scope of their representation.

9. In this respect, it is worth recalling the historical aspects of interest. Napoleon Bonaparte established in 1811, by decree, that a Frenchman could not be accredited as an ambassador of another State in Paris. The Holy See has had the usual procedure for persons of foreign nationality to represent, but does not accept the selection of a cardinal to be an ambassador to the Vatican.  Of particular significance is the fact that Italians, in the Renaissance period of the sixteenth century, were the first to resort to professional emissaries, basically taking into account their knowledge, talent and expertise in the area. Since then, in this exercise, it is considered an essential skill to know to properly identify the location and timing of diplomatic actions. Today’s technological advances in the service of diplomatic action consistently facilitate the effective development of this exercise.

10. It can also be argued above that qualitative diplomacy does not depend purely on conforming to the principle of legal equality, including the protocol, between states. The effectiveness of the diplomatic mission depends as well on the value of ambassador’s performance and the efficient management of the Foreign Ministry.

11. A diplomat must always keep in mind two maxims: that expressed by Napoleon Bonaparte who stated: “Without the opportunity the ability does not get results; ” and the caveat of Honoré de Balzac: “Even a person of prodigious imagination can perceive that in the negotiations (or processes) the most dangerous moment is when everything goes according to his desires.”

© by Odeen Ishmael

6. Ad hoc diplomacy

20 Nov

Ad hoc diplomacy

 1. In the field of diplomatic representation there are certain periods set aside by a State for the precise task or addressing a particular issue. This is generally handled by a “special mission.”

2. In order to recognise its particular character, the actions corresponding to such missions tend to be framed in the field of ad hoc diplomacy. This is considered the oldest form of diplomacy and is utilized for casual, temporary and specific issues. For example, it is applied to peacefully resolve certain conflicts, to resolve an issue of common interest and also to negotiate peace.

3. While today sending a special mission is always subject to the agreement approving the receiving State, the responsibilities of the mission should be subject to the mutual agreement of the States concerned. Special missions are not governed by rules pertaining to the establishment of embassies and permanent missions or the establishment of diplomatic relations, as pointed out provisions of the Convention of New York on Special Missions, 1969.

4. However, this international legal instrument does not regulate all forms of execution of ad hoc diplomacy. Its scope is limited to special missions in bilateral diplomacy, excluding all other forms such as limited temporary delegations in multilateral relations. The said Convention does not regulate the composition of special missions, but it is not uncommon for a president or a foreign minister to lead a special mission. This fact is recognised that Convention.

5. At the head of the special mission is usually a high government official or a diplomat in office. He may perform this work with the office of the special mission itself, or be designated temporarily by one of the categories corresponding to heads of special missions, such as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on Special Mission or the Ambassador at Large. If the special mission is for a limited period, he may be appointed as Ambassador-Head of this mission.

6. It is always advantageous if the head of the special mission is known in the receiving State, and particularly if he has worked as a senior diplomat in that State. If the head of the special mission is at the level of a president, (or ex-president, prime minister or foreign minister, it might be also useful if he has close ties with the Head of State and the foreign minister of the receiving State.

7. Please note finally that members of special missions should have, in principle, the nationality of the sending State. Both nationals of the receiving State, such as third States shall not be part of those missions without going through an agreement to that effect. They may instead be part of these officials of permanent missions accredited to the receiving state.

8. The receiving country may refuse to accept an assignment where the number of members is excessive, and object, just as the inclusion of any person in it, without having to explain its decision. Remember that unless otherwise agreed, members of these missions are prevented from exercising in the receiving state business or professional activities for their own profit. In this regard, the receiving State is empowered to declare persona non grata to any member of staff of the special mission.

Copyright © 2012 by Odeen Ishmael

5. Parliamentary Diplomacy

11 Nov

Parliamentary Diplomacy

1. Diplomacy at present is the consequence of the many transformations and changes that have taken place in the international arena due to technical process and social change.

2.  It is clear that contemporary diplomacy constantly and simultaneously uses a variety of methods, reflecting the greater suitability of each of these particularly if it achieves the specific objective in the specific circumstances to which it is applied.

3. Diplomacy today is the joint action of different sub-types of diplomacy integrated into a common base. In these times, one can speak of “public diplomacy,” “cyber diplomacy” or “mass diplomacy,” “economic and trade diplomacy,” and also of “cultural diplomacy” and, among others, of “parliamentary diplomacy.”

4. The term, “parliamentary diplomacy,” was coined by the noted scholar and politician Dean Rusk. However, it was in 1956 that Professor Philip Jessup, the American scholar, diplomat and jurist, conferred scientific value to it. The Mexican diplomat, César Sepúlveda, who has also written widely on this form of diplomacy, explained that this kind of diplomacy has special importance as a source of rules of political behaviour since it can function as an agent for the creation of legal norms while contributing to the evolution of genuine international law.

5. With regard to parliamentary diplomacy, in recent years, publications in the field of law and social communication use the term to refer to a different concept that has been recorded for decades in the field of international law and international relations. It refers to legislative actions and decisions with international implications. These decisions promote, expand and support internal and external decisions by the State.

6. Parliamentary diplomacy also involves the necessary linkages with inter-parliamentary agencies and civil society organisations in promoting discussions and debates involving global issues such as human rights, integration, environment, migration, drug trafficking, among others; and also conducting research and producing literature to substantiate the findings arising out of these forums.

7. Parliamentary diplomacy is a particularly useful instrument and as a perfect complement to traditional diplomacy. International action by parliaments currently manifests itself in multiple and variable forms, such as: a) The numerous activities in the area traditionally known as inter-parliamentary relations which include the meetings of occasional or permanent delegations, parliamentary forums and parliamentary assemblies; b) Formation of “friendship groups” with members of parliament of another country; c) The activity of the Speaker of Parliament in meeting with representatives of foreign governments;  d) Participation of parliamentary delegations in regional parliamentary forums.

8. In the same context, certain contemporary treatises on public international law and diplomatic law include modern parliaments as agencies involved in external relations, along with the traditional roles of Heads of State, foreign ministers and foreign ministries. These treatises that support such inclusion in most countries seek to engage its parliamentary members in a more active and direct formulation and control of foreign policy.

9. In this regard, parliaments in many countries carry out such roles as the adoption of treaties, approval for the appointment of ambassadors, and declaration of war and peace negotiations, which are the extremes of traditional diplomatic action. Similarly, their participation may be indirect through the work of the parliamentary committees, the plenary debate, and the summoning of foreign ministers to answer questions and provide information on the State’s foreign policy. Significantly, parliamentary diplomacy is also a form of action that aims to get an agreement through the creation of majorities within the existing legislative institutions.

10. Parliamentary diplomacy in its development evokes the dynamics of the various local and regional legislative groups with special interests and has similarity to legislative lobbying, seeking consensus and the corresponding manoeuvers in national assemblies.

Copyright © 2012 by Odeen Ishmael