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


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