At Home with the Diplomats: Inside a European Foreign Ministry

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The Italian ministry was called "the Consulta. Though any person can be appointed by the State's national government to conduct said state's relations with other States or international organizations, a number of States maintain an institutionalized group of career diplomats—that is, public servants with a steady professional connection to the country's foreign ministry. The term career diplomat is used worldwide [3] [4] [5] [6] [4] [7] [8] in opposition to political appointees that is, people from any other professional backgrounds who may equally be designated by an official government to act as diplomats abroad.

Ceremonial heads of state commonly act as diplomats on behalf of their nation, usually following instructions from their head of Government. Diplomats in posts collect and report information that could affect national interests, often with advice about how the home-country government should respond.

Training for International Diplomats

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, of trying 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 develops. In general, it has become harder for diplomats to act autonomously.

Diplomats have to seize secure communication systems, emails, and mobile telephones can be tracked 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 has transformed the contact between diplomats and the ministry. It is less likely to leak, and enables more personal contact than the formal cablegram , with its wide distribution and impersonal style.

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 become critical.

If competent, they will have developed relationships grounded in trust and mutual understanding with influential members of the country in which they are accredited.


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They will have worked hard to understand the motives, thought patterns and culture of the other side. The diplomat should be an excellent negotiator but, above all, a catalyst for peace and understanding between people. The diplomat's principal role is to foster peaceful relations between states. This role takes on heightened importance if war breaks out. Negotiation must necessarily continue — but within significantly altered contexts. Most career diplomats have university degrees in international relations , political science , economics , or law.

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". 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.

Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. New Password. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Returning user. Murdoch, Z. Public Administration , 92 1 , 71— Naurin, D. Naurin and H. Neumann, I. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


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  • Outhwaite, W. Luc Boltanski in Euroland. Susen, S. Eds The Spirit of Luc Boltanski. London: Anthem.

    Theorising the EU’s Diplomatic Service: Rational Player or Social Body?

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    At Home with the Diplomats: Inside a European Foreign Ministry - Iver B. Neumann - Google Books

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