Diplomatic mission

Diplomatic mission

Overview

A diplomatic mission is a group of people from one state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 or an international inter-governmental organisation (such as the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

) present in another state to represent the sending state/organisation in the receiving state. In practice, a diplomatic
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 mission usually denotes the permanent mission, namely the office of a country's diplomatic representatives in the capital city of another country.
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Encyclopedia

A diplomatic mission is a group of people from one state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 or an international inter-governmental organisation (such as the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

) present in another state to represent the sending state/organisation in the receiving state. In practice, a diplomatic
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 mission usually denotes the permanent mission, namely the office of a country's diplomatic representatives in the capital city of another country. As well as being a diplomatic mission to the country in which it is situated, it may also be a non-resident permanent mission to one or more other countries. There are thus resident and non-resident embassies.

Naming


A permanent diplomatic mission is typically known as an embassy, and the person in charge of the mission is known as an ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

. The term "embassy" is often used to refer to the building or compound housing an ambassador's offices and staff. Technically, however, "embassy" refers to the diplomatic delegation itself, while the office building in which they work is known as a chancery
Chancery
Chancery may refer to:* Chancery , the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy* Chancery , a medieval writing office* Chancery , in Ceredigion, Wales...

.

Ambassadors can reside within or outside of the chancery; for example, American diplomatic missions maintain separate housing for their ambassadors apart from their embassies. Ambassadors residing outside of the chancery retain special protection from the host country's security forces and the ambassadorial residence
Ambassadorial residence
An ambassadorial residence is where an ambassador lives, often an official residence. In many cases it is in the same building as the chancery, which houses the embassy . Like embassies, such residences are considered inviolable and, in most cases, extraterritorial.The residences of high...

s enjoy the same rights as missions.

All missions to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 are known simply as permanent missions, while EU Member States' missions to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 are known as permanent representations and the head of such a mission is typically both a permanent representative and an ambassador. European Union missions abroad are known as EU delegations. Some countries have more particular naming for their missions and staff: a Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 mission is headed by a nuncio
Nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

 (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 "envoy") and consequently known as an apostolic nunciature
Apostolic Nunciature
An Apostolic Nunciature is a top-level diplomatic mission of the Holy See, equivalent to an embassy.The head of the Apostolic Nunciature is called nuncio. A nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin nuntius, meaning messenger...

. Under the rule of Maumar al-Gadaffi Libya's missions
Foreign relations of Libya
The foreign relations of Libya under Gaddafi  underwent much fluctuation and change. They were marked by severe tension with the West and by Gaddafi's activist policies in the Middle East and Africa, including his financial and military support for...

 used the name people's bureau and the head of the mission was a secretary. Missions between Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 countries are known as high commissions and their heads are high commissioners
High Commissioner (Commonwealth)
In the Commonwealth of Nations, a High Commissioner is the senior diplomat in charge of the diplomatic mission of one Commonwealth government to another.-History:...

. This is because ambassadors are exchanged between foreign countries, but since the beginning of the Commonwealth, member countries have nominally maintained that they are not foreign to one another (the same reason as the naming of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

).

In the past a diplomatic mission headed by a lower-ranking official (an envoy or minister resident) was known as a legation. Since the ranks of envoy and minister resident are effectively obsolete, the designation of legation is no longer used today. (See diplomatic rank
Diplomatic rank
Diplomatic rank is the system of professional and social rank used in the world of diplomacy and international relations. Over time it has been formalized on an international basis.-Ranks:...

.)

A consulate
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

is similar to (but not the same as) a diplomatic office, but with focus on dealing with individual persons and businesses, as defined by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an international treaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent countries...

. A consulate or consulate general is generally a representative of the embassy in locales outside of the capital city. For instance, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 has its Embassy of the United Kingdom in Washington, D.C., but also maintains seven consulates-general and four consulates elsewhere in the US. The person in charge of a consulate or consulate-general is known as a consul
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

 or consul-general, respectively. Similar services may also be provided at the embassy (to serve the region of the capital) in what is sometimes called a consular section.

In cases of dispute, it is common for a country to recall
Letter of Credence
A letter of credence is a formal letter usually sent by one head of state to another that formally grants diplomatic accreditation to a named individual to be their ambassador in the country of the head of state receiving the letter...

 its head of mission as a sign of its displeasure. This is less drastic than cutting diplomatic relations completely, and the mission will still continue operating more or less normally, but it will now be headed by a chargé d'affaires
Chargé d'affaires
In diplomacy, chargé d’affaires , often shortened to simply chargé, is the title of two classes of diplomatic agents who head a diplomatic mission, either on a temporary basis or when no more senior diplomat has been accredited.-Chargés d’affaires:Chargés d’affaires , who were...

(usually the deputy chief of mission
Deputy Chief of Mission
A Deputy Chief of Mission , is the number-two diplomat assigned to an embassy or other diplomatic mission. He or she is usually considered the second-in-command or top lieutenant to the Head of Mission...

) who may have limited powers. (A chargé d'affaires ad interim also heads the mission during the interim between the end of one chief of mission's term and the beginning of another).

Extraterritoriality





Contrary to popular belief, diplomatic missions do not enjoy full extraterritorial status
Extraterritoriality
Extraterritoriality is the state of being exempt from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. Extraterritoriality can also be applied to physical places, such as military bases of foreign countries, or offices of the United Nations...

 and are not sovereign territory of the represented state. Rather, the premises of diplomatic missions remain under the jurisdiction of the host state while being afforded special privileges (such as immunity from most local laws) by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

. Diplomats themselves still retain full diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

, and (as an adherent to the Vienna Convention) the host country may not enter the premises of the mission without permission of the represented country. The term "extraterritoriality," therefore, is often used in this broader sense when applied to diplomatic missions.

As the host country may not enter the representing country's embassy without permission, embassies are sometimes used by refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s escaping from either the host country or a third country. For example, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

n nationals, who would be arrested and deported from China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 upon discovery, have sought sanctuary at various third-country embassies in China. Once inside the embassy, diplomatic channels can be used to solve the issue and send the refugees to another country. Notable violations of embassy extraterritoriality include the Iran hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 (1979–1981) and the Japanese embassy hostage crisis
Japanese embassy hostage crisis
The Japanese embassy hostage crisis began on 17 December 1996 in Lima, Peru, when 14 members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement took hostage hundreds of high-level diplomats, government and military officials and business executives who were attending a party at the official residence of...

 at the ambassador's residence in Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 during 1996.

Role


"The functions of a diplomatic mission consist, inter alia, in representing the sending State in the receiving State; protecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law; negotiating with the Government of the receiving State; ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State; promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations".

Between members of the Commonwealth of Nations their diplomatic missions are not called embassies, but High Commissions, as Commonwealth nations share a special diplomatic relationship. It is generally expected that an embassy of a Commonwealth country in a non-Commonwealth country will do its best to provide diplomatic services to citizens from other Commonwealth countries if the citizen's country does not have an embassy in that country. Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n nationals enjoy even greater cooperation between their respective consular services, as outlined in Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement. The same kind of procedure is also followed multilaterally by the member states of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (EU). European citizens in need of consular help in a country without diplomatic or consular representation of their own country may turn to any consular or diplomatic mission of another EU member state.

The rights and immunities (such as diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

) of diplomatic missions are codified in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

.

Multiple missions in a city


Some cities may host more than one mission from the same country. An example is Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where many states maintain missions to Italy
Foreign relations of Italy
Since its unification in 1861, Italy has been one of the most important and influential European countries. Its major allies are the United States, the other NATO countries , and the European Union...

 and another to the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

. It is not customary for these missions to share premises nor diplomatic personnel. At present, only the Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i missions to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 share premises; however, two ambassadors are appointed, one to each country. In the case of the UN's Food Agencies, the Head of Mission to the Italian Republic is usually accredited as Permanent Representative
Permanent Representative
A Permanent Representative is the head of a diplomatic mission to one of various international organisations. The best known of the organisations to which states send Permanent Representatives is the United Nations; of these, the most high-profile ones are those assigned to headquarters in New...

. The United States maintains a separate United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome
United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome
The United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome serves as a link between the Rome-based international organizations and the U.S. government. With staff representing the Departments of State, Agriculture, and the Agency for International Development, the U.S...

 whose head is the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture is the head of the United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome and thus is the United States ambassador to the three United Nations agencies for food and agriculture located in Rome, Italy: the Food and...

.

Non-Diplomatic Offices


Governments of states not recognized by the receiving state and of territories that make no claim to be sovereign states may set up offices abroad that do not have official diplomatic status as defined by the Vienna Convention. Examples are the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office
A Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office , sometimes known as a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office or a Taipei Representative Office , is a representative office, established by the Republic of China in countries that have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China...

s that represent the government of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

, Somaliland
Somaliland
Somaliland is an unrecognised self-declared sovereign state that is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia. The government of Somaliland regards itself as the successor state to the British Somaliland protectorate, which was independent for a few days in 1960 as the State of...

's Representative Offices in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

, Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices are the representations of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China abroad and in mainland China...

s that represent the government of that territory. Such offices assume some of the non-diplomatic functions of diplomatic posts, such as promoting trade interests and providing assistance to its citizens and residents. They are nevertheless not diplomatic missions, their personnel are not diplomats and do not have diplomatic visas, although there may be legislation providing for personal immunities and tax privileges, as in the case of the Hong Kong offices in London and Toronto, for example.

United States


Under United States law, offices which are not official diplomatic missions are officially regarded by the Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 as "information centers"; credentials from their chiefs of mission are not accepted.

See also

  • Diplomacy
    Diplomacy
    Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

  • Embassy Row
    Embassy Row
    Embassy Row is the informal name for a street or area of a city in which embassies or other diplomatic installations are concentrated. Washington, D.C.'s Embassy Row lies along Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., and its cross streets between Thomas Circle and Ward Circle, although the vast majority of...

    , District of Columbia
  • List of attacks on diplomatic missions
  • Lists of diplomatic missions
  • List of people who took refuge in a diplomatic mission
  • Paradiplomacy
    Paradiplomacy
    The concept of paradiplomacy refers to the international relations conducted by subnational, regional, local or non-central governments on their own, with a view to promoting their own interests. This feature appears to be an aspect of the overall process of globalisation, under which a number of...


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