The procedure by which a nation becomes a party to an agreement already in force between other nations.
International agreements originally thought to be for lesser subjects than covered by treaties, but now really treaties by a different name.
An agreement reached ad referendum means an agreement reached by negotiators at the table, subject to the subsequent concurrence of their governments.
Manifestation which makes the receiving state, requested to do so by the sending State, that has nothing to oppose to the person it intends to appoint as Chief of Mission to the former. Diplomatic courtesy requires that before a state appoints a new chief of diplomatic mission to represent it in another state, it must be first ascertained whether the proposed appointee is acceptable to the receiving state. The acquiescence of the receiving state is signified by granting its agrément to the appointment. In Spanish language, it is used the word “Plácet”.
When an agreement is signed between two states, or among several states, each signatory keeps an official copy for itself. Alternat refers to the principle which provides that a state’s own name will be listed ahead of the other signatory, or signatories, in its own official copy. It is a practice devised centuries ago to handle sensitivities over precedence.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
The chief of a diplomatic mission; the ranking official diplomatic representative of his country to the country to which he is accredited, and the personal representative of his own head of state to the head of state of the host country. The term “extraordinary” has no real meaning. Years ago it was given only to nonresident ambassadors on temporary missions and was used to distinguish them from regular resident ambassadors. The latter resented others having this appellation, as it seemed to imply a lesser position for themselves. Eventually therefore, it was accorded to them as well. “Plenipotentiary” also comes down through the years. Today it simply means possessed of full power to do an ambassador’s normal job. Ambassador is capitalized when referring to a specific person (i.e. Ambassador Smith).
In Spain, is an officer of the Diplomatic Corps who has reached the top division in the ranks, but can be found, or not, as head of a diplomatic mission.
An official who has been named to be an ambassador, but who has not yet taken his oath of office.
A controversial term, as some advocate the indiscriminate use of the word ambassador, whether the holder is male or female. Ambassadress has been traditionally used to designate the wife of an ambassador. But today is also accepted to refer to the head of the diplomatic mission.
Used in diplomacy to mean the giving of refuge in two senses: first, within the extraterritorial grounds of an embassy; and second, when one states allows someone to live within its borders, out of reach of the authority of a second state from which the person seeks protection.
Civilian attachés are either junior officers in an embassy or, if more senior, officers who have a professional specialization such as “labor attaché”, “commercial attaché”, “cultural attaché” “defense attaché”, etc.
See “Diplomatic Pouch”. Bag is the British term. “Bag Day” is the day the pouch is sealed and sent to the home office. Hence, bag day is the day when all non-telegraphic reporting must be finalized and dispatched.
A state of belligerency is a state of armed conflict. Belligerents are direct participants in the conflict.
Bilateral discussions or negotiations are between a state and one other. A bilateral treaty is between one state and one other. “Multilateral” is used when more than two states are involved.
Bout de Papier
A very informal means of conveying written information; more informal than an aide mémoire or a memorandum.
The formal act of severing diplomatic relations with another state to underscore disapproval of its actions or policies. An intermediate step which indicates serious displeasure but stops short of an actual diplomatic break is for a government to recall its ambassador indefinitely” (see “Recall Ambassador”).
An action by one state regarded as so contrary to the interests of another state as to be considered by that second state as a cause for war.
In Spanish embassies or consulates is the chief administrative of personnel. He does not have diplomatic consideration.
The office where the chief of mission and his staff work. This office is often called the embassy but this is a misnomer. Technically, the embassy is where the ambassador lives, not where he works, although in earlier times when diplomatic missions were smaller, this was usually the same building. Today, for clarity’s sake, many diplomats now distinguish between the two by using the terms “embassy residence” and “embassy office”.
Chancery, Head of
An important position in British embassies not found in American diplomatic establishments. An officer, usually head of the political section, charged with coordinating the substantive and administrative performance of the embassy. In an American embassy, the ambassador looks to the deputy chief of mission to do this.
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
Formerly, a chargé d’affaires was the title of a chief of mission, inferior in rank to an ambassador or a minister. Today with the a.i. (ad interim) added, it designates the senior officer taking charge for the interval when a chief of mission is absent from his post.
Chief of Mission
The ranking officer in an embassy, permanent mission, legation, consulate general or consulate (i.e. an ambassador always, and a minister, consul general, or consul when no more senior officer is assigned to the post). A “chief of mission” can also be the head of a special and temporary diplomatic mission.
International Treaty between the Holy See and other State to regulate bilateral relations as a whole or specific areas of mutual interest.
The chief of a consulate.
An official doing consular work for a nation in a locality where it does not maintain a regular consulate. This official is usually a national of his host state, and his work is usually part-time.
Area assigned to a consular post. In Spanish practice it is distinguished between Consular Demarcation (Consulate or General Consulate constituency) and Consular District (district of an Honorary Consulate).
An office established by one state in an important city of another state for the purpose of supporting and protecting its citizens traveling or residing there. In addition, these offices are charges with issuing visas to host country nationals wishing to travel to the country the consulate represents. All consulates are administratively under the embassy. They often serve as branch offices for the embassy and are expected to play a particularly significant role in connection with the promotion of their own country’s exports and other commercial activities.
The biggest and more important consulate, regardless of the extent of his district, presided over by a consul-general.
A host-country national appointed by a foreign state to perform limited consular functions in a locality where the appointing state has no other consular representation. Can be at the same time Honorary Consul of two or more countries. In contrast to the Consul, has jurisdiction only on a limited number of consular functions permitted by international law.
An agreement between two or more states, often more, concerning matters of common interest. While supposedly used for lesser matters than embraced in a treaty, it often deals with important subjects indeed: international postal and copyright laws, for example, or the law of the sea.
Counselor of Embassy
A senior diplomatic title ranking just behind an ambassador and a minister. In many embassies there is no minister, and the counselor is the number two man, i.e., the deputy chief of mission.
The name for letters given to an ambassador by his chief of state, and addressed to the chief of state of his host country. They are delivered to the latter by ambassadors in a formal credentials ceremony, which generally takes place shortly after his arrival at a new post. Until this ceremony has taken place he is not formally recognized by the host country, and he cannot officially act as an ambassador. The letters are termed “letters of credence” because they request the receiving chief of state to give “full credence” to what the ambassador will say of behalf of his government.
This can have two quite distinct meanings in diplomacy. It can first, of course, mean a unilateral statement by one state, ranging from an expression of opinion or policy to a declaration of war. It can also mean a joint statement by two or more states having the same binding effect as a treaty. In this latter connection declarations can be put forward either in their own right or appended to a treaty as an added understanding or interpretation.
The body of foreign diplomats assembled at a nation’s capital. In cities where consuls and consul general are resident, it is collectively known as the Consular Corps. The dean of both corps is usually the official who had been at his post the longest. There are exceptions, however. For example, in some Catholic countries (such as Spain), the papal nuncio is always the dean. The dean represents the corps in collective dealings with host country officials on matters of a ceremonial or administrative character affecting the corps as a whole.
Diplomatic immunity ensures that will not be impeded unnecessarily to the diplomats the legitimate exercise of their official duties. It includes inviolability of person and premises and exemption from taxes and civil and criminal jurisdiction of local courts.
A formal written means of communication among embassies.
Originally a closed and sealed wallet containing official correspondence between a government and its diplomatic agents abroad. Currently is the set of shipments, primarily reports, which are regularly made between both parties. The official correspondence of the diplomatic mission shall be inviolable and shall not be opened or retained, as established by the Vienna Convention.
Having two or more responsibilities, such as an ambassador who is simultaneously accredited to two nations.
The residence of an ambassador. In recent years, also inaccurately used to denote the building which contains the offices of the ambassador and other key members of his staff. The proper term for the latter, as noted above, is the “chancery”.
Exchange of Notes
A common way of recording an agreement. The contents of the notes are, of course, agreed upon in advance by the two nations participating in the exchange.
A document issued to a consul by the host country government authorizing him to carry out his consular duties.
Something which is done as a gesture of good will and not on the basis of an accepted legal obligation.
The exercise by one nation, as a result of formally concluded agreements, of certain sovereign functions within the territory of another state.
The name given to a once marsh like area near Washington’s Potomac River, and now bequeathed to the U.S. Department of State.
Shorthand for a career American diplomat, i.e., an American Foreign Service officer.
A document which authorizes a diplomat to conduct and consummate special business on behalf of his government, such as the settlement of a dispute or the negotiation and signing of a treaty. Before signing a treaty, a diplomat is obligated to show his full-powers document to the other parties involved.
Guarantee, Treaty of
One by which one or more states undertake to respect the obligations between two states that have concluded a treaty.
A legation is a diplomatic mission similar for most practical purposes to an embassy, but lower in rank, and presided over by a minister rather than an ambassador.
Letters of Credence
Apart from its cabinet-officer connotation (i.e. “foreign minister”), a minister has traditionally been a chief of diplomatic mission who headed a legation rather than an embassy. As so few legations are left, the title has, therefore, come increasingly to mean the senior counselor under the ambassador. To avoid confusion, the United States and a number of governments designate these senior deputy chiefs of mission by the hyphenated title “minister-counselor”.
A generic term for embassy. Mission also describes the entirety of official representation in a foreign country which functions under the supervision of the Ambassador, including civilian and military personnel.
A temporary agreement, in writing, of an interim character, pending the negotiation of more definitive arrangements.
In diplomatic parlance, a “non-paper” is used when a government is conveying a point to other government/governments or state actors while keeping nothing on record. A “non-paper” is essentially a means by which, in international affairs, is considered a subject without treating the process as official business.
The official document issued to a person by his/her government certifying citizenship and requesting foreign governments to grant the individual safe passage, lawful aid and protection while under that government’s jurisdiction.
Used in written social correspondence, “pour condoler” (to express sympathy).
Used in written social correspondence, “pour féliciter” (to extend congratulations).
Used in written social correspondence, “pour memoire” (to remind).
Used in written social correspondence, “pour présenter” (to introduce).
Used in written social correspondence, “pour prendre congé” (to say goodbye).
Used in written social correspondence, “pour remercier” (to express thanks).
Persona Non Grata
An individual who is unacceptable to or unwelcome by the host government.
Priority; the right to superior honor on a ceremonial or formal occasion; for ambassadors in a country, precedence is determined by the order in which they presented their credentials to the host government.
Originally a protocol was considered a less formal document than a treaty, but that is a distinction no longer valid. A protocol may be an agreement in its own right. It also may constitute added sections which clarify or alter an agreement, or it may be used to add new subjects of agreement to the original document.
Refers to the ceremonial side of diplomacy, including matters of diplomatic courtesy and precedence.
The official of a committee or subcommittee whose job is to prepare a summary report of its discussions and conclusions.
The act, subsequent to a treaty’s having been negotiated, by which a government commits itself to adhere to that treaty. In the United States, it is inaccurate to speak of the Senate’s ratifying a treaty. The executive does this, but only after the Senate has given its consent.
Order sent to a Head of Mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the sending State to appear in person in order to report urgently on a given topic and receive particular instructions.
Commonly used in connection with the recognition by one state of 1) the existence of another state (for example when a new one is formed), or 2) the existence of a government which is in effective control of a state. The term “de facto recognition” means recognition that a state, or a government of a state, in fact exists – but it also means the withholding of full official recognition of this. When the latter is extended, it is termed “de jure recognition”. It is a distinction based more on diplomatic convenience than on logic.
A diplomatic discussion covering most (or at least a number of ) subjects of current and common concern.
A formal mutually binding agreement between countries. The term comes from traiter, to negotiate.
A last statement indicating a final position. On occasion a prelude to the initiation of military action.
A term used when one government wishes to tell another that an action the latter has taken is regarded as so serious that it might lead to a military action against it.
Official written communication, written in third person, who runs a diplomatic mission to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receiving State. It’s called so because formerly collected verbal terms conversation and used to be given to completion. Currently, it is the quintessential diplomatic note.
Written authority to enter a country for either temporary or permanent residence, depending on its wording.