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the mission who are nationals of the receiving State can only be appointed with the consent of that State which may be withdrawn at any time.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


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