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Instruments of Diplomacy

Written by Sonniee Alli

There are two organized instruments of diplomacy: the foreign offices and the diplomats.

The Foreign Offices

Otherwise known as the Ministry of External Affairs in Nigeria, is the arm of government that is responsible for the formulation of foreign policy objectives that determines the nature of relations among countries in the international system.

The foreign offices is usually located in the capitals of respective nations and it is always busy receiving, processing and evaluating information to guide the home governments on developments in other countries, and how to appropriately respond to this development in other to protect the interest of nations in other countries. The actualization of a county’s foreign policy objectives in another country is facilitated by diplomats.

Morgenthau says “while the foreign office is the brains of foreign policy, the diplomatic representatives are its eyes, ear and mouth……” The foreign office is responsible for the posting of ambassadors to protect the interest of their nations in other nations.

The Diplomat

We usually reserve the name diplomat for the ambassadorial staff serving abroad, and this diplomat works in embassies.

Embassies are foreign offices located in the capitals of other countries, they are considered as an extension of one country in another country in another country and the ambassadorial-diplomat is the head of the embassy. The diplomat fulfills three basic functions for his government – symbolic, legal and political.

i. Symbolic

Palmer and Perkens says the diplomat is a formal representative of his country in a foreign state. He is the normal agent of communication between his own foreign office and that of the state to which he is accredited.

Therefore, the official and personal impression of the diplomat to able to efficiently represent his country and implant some of his country’s values, he must cultivate a wide variety of social contacts within his host country.

It is believed that through conversations at social functions, the diplomats can pick up information or that of the host. Ziegler argues that the idea that an ambassador is a personal representative from one head of state to another goes back to monarchic times, when all kings considered themselves brothers and sent representatives more as a family obligation than as a government service.

The notion that a diplomat is a personal representative is still taken seriously in contemporary time though not for family obligation but strictly for government service

ii. Legal

Morgenthau tells that the diplomat also acts as the legal representative of his government. He is expected to act in the name of his government the legal functions that his country’s constitution, laws and the orders of the government that allow him to perform.

He can on behalf of his home, government enter into a negotiation that will serve most especially the interest of his home government that may eventually lead to, according to Palme, “the drafting of a wide variety of bilateral and multilateral arrangements embodied in treaties, conventions, protocols, and other documents of a political, economic and social nature”.

The diplomat’s legal status also confers on him the credibility to be authorized to sign treaties or to transmit and receive ratification documents by which a treaty already signed is brought to force. The diplomat gives legal protection to citizens of his country in his accredited country.

iii. Political

The accuracy and soundness of the reports a government receives from its diplomatic missions abroad are indispensable for the soundness of its own decisions with regards to the variables that will determine the nature of foreign policy objectives towards other nations.

One of the primary functions of the diplomat is to observe and report back to its own government. Palmer tells us of a publication of the United States Department of the state on the American Foreign Service, diplomats are expected to “observe, analyse and report on political, social and economic conditions and trends of significance in the country they are assigned

Diplomats source information about the host country through routine activities such as, reading newspapers, turning in to media houses, and the use of specialized attaches to gather information relevant to its home government.

Some of the attaches officially carry out the spying job of its own country to assess the nature and power of its host nations. There are military, economic, social-cultural attaches in most foreign missions abroad.

Politically, the assessment and report of the ambassadorial-diplomat about the country of accreditation can affect the political relation of his home government and his host.

Read More

  • Objectives of Diplomacy – Tadexprof
  • Diplomacy: Meaning, Nature, Functions and Role in Crisis Link
  • diplomacy | Definition, Meaning, Types, & Examples | Britannica
  • Diplomacy – Wikipedia

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About the author

Sonniee Alli

Dr. Sunday Abraham OGUNODE (aka Sonniee Alli) is a lecturer in the Department of History and International Studies and currently the Sub-Dean, Faculty of Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko. He preferred to be called a Teacher not a Lecturer in order to allow students' easy access and enhance their inclusive experiences while imparting knowledge in and out of classes. It is, therefore, not surprising that Sonniee Alli takes time out of his very busy schedules to write and make available detailed notes in all his courses to the students. Despite this, he attends all his classes and passionately explains issues using real-time illustration. His notes are available on the History Archives managed by his mentee Obaloluwa Tadese FAFORIJI, a 300level young but promising student of the Department. Enjoy as you explore the academic world of Sonniee Alli.

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