Definition of diplomat
From French diplomate, a back-formation from diplomatique 'diplomatic', ultimately from Greek diploma 'double-folded document'
diplomat (plural diplomats)
- A person who is accredited, such as an ambassador, to officially represents a government in its relations with other governments or international organisms
- (figuratively) Someone who uses skill and tact in dealing with other people
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organisation. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and friendly relations.
Diplomats are the oldest form of any of the foreign policy institutions of the state, predating foreign ministries, foreign ministers and ministerial offices by centuries.
The ranks of diplomats - ambassadors, counsellors, first, second and third secretaries and so on - has remained largely immune from the fashions of management re-engineering in home-based departments.
Diplomats can be contrasted with consuls, who represent their state in a number of administrative ways, but who don't have the diplomat's political functions.
Status and public image
Diplomats have generally been considered 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" J. W. 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." The state supports the high status, privileges and self-esteem of its diplomats in order to support its own international status and position.
There is some mistrust of the diplomatic profession, a belief that diplomats are too easily seduced by the country in which they are living, too willing to dump the national interest in the cause of "good relations".
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