Diplomatic ranks designate the career and protocol status of personnel holding diplomatic positions in line with international customs and reflect their professional competence and suitability to perform foreign service for the Slovak Republic.
The body of the qualifications and skills required for career advancement, including the rules, conditions and procedures underlying the conferral or brevetting of diplomatic ranks, are set out in Career Regulations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic (the Ministry). The conferral and brevetting of diplomatic ranks constitute an important personnel policy instrument of the Ministry. They have a direct impact on career advancement of Slovak foreign-service officers and fulfill an important motivational function, while creating conditions for the continuous upgrading of the professional standard of our foreign service and its members. There is no legal entitlement to be conferred or breveted a diplomatic rank.
Similar to most other states and in line with international practice, the order of diplomatic ranks in the Slovak diplomatic service, from the lowest to the highest diplomatic rank, is shown below (French equivalents of designations of individual diplomatic ranks are given in brackets).
I Lower diplomatic ranks
- Attaché (Attaché). This diplomatic rank is also sometimes conferred or breveted to non-diplomatic staff temporarily assigned to serve at diplomatic missions in order to carry out economic management tasks, or to other administrative or technical staff in so-called risk countries.
- Third Secretary (Troisième Secrétaire)
II Mid-level diplomatic ranks
- Second Secretary (Deuxième Secrétaire)
- First Secretary (Premier Secrétaire)
III Higher diplomatic ranks
- Counsellor (Conseiller)
- Minister Counsellor (Ministre Conseiller)
- Ambassador (Ambassadeur)
The Employees who are temporarily assigned to a diplomatic mission functioning as a Consular Office are attributed consular class (in conformity with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations) as follows:
- Consular Employee (i.e., official who is not conferred or breveted a diplomatic rank for the period of his/her temporary assignment),
- Vice-consul (i.e., official who is conferred or breveted a diplomatic rank at least at the level of Attaché or Third Secretary for the period of his/her temporary assignment),
- Consul (i.e., official who is conferred or breveted a diplomatic rank at least at the level of Second Secretary or Third Secretary for the period of his/her temporary assignment),
- Consul General (i.e., an official acting as the chief of a diplomatic mission functioning as Consulate General).
Functions of Diplomats
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (head of a diplomatic mission), Fr. Ambassadeur Extraordinaire et Plénipotentiaire.
He/she is appointed by the President of the republic in consultation with the government on a proposal by the minister of foreign affairs. Before the ambassador assumes his/her new position, formal consent with the person of the ambassador must be requested from the head of the state of accreditation. This consent is called agreement. In its absence, the ambassador may not take up his/her post. The refusal or failure to grant agreement usually represents a relatively strong step against the requesting/sending country. The date on which the ambassador officially takes up his/her mission is the day of the presentation of his/her credentials to the head of the receiving state (president of the republic, monarch, etc.).
Chargé d´affaires (en pied, ad interim – a diplomat in charge of running a diplomatic mission)
He/she is appointed by the minister of foreign affairs. In this case, no agreement of the host/receiving state is required. The ministry of foreign affairs of the receiving state is merely notified of the appointment. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations distinguishes between the posts of “chargé d´affaires en pied” and “chargé d´affaires ad interim”. The post of chargé d´affaires (known in diplomatic circles by the acronym “CDA”) has no relation to diplomatic ranks. Nevertheless, diplomats assigned to this post usually hold a mid-level or higher diplomatic rank.
(a) Chargé d´affaires en pied (e. p.) is a diplomatic officer posted on a long-term assignment as chief of a diplomatic mission to which the sending state did not delegate its Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. The appointment of a chargé d´affaires e. p. may also represent a political signal when a state is not interested in promoting mutual relations to a full-fledged ambassadorial level.
(b) Chargé d´affaires ad interim (a. i.) is a diplomatic officer posted on a temporary assignment as chief of a diplomatic mission in the absence of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, e. g., in the interim period before the appointment of a new ambassador, during the ambassador’s leave of absence, during the time when the ambassador is recalled for consultations to the headquarters, etc.
Consul General (Head of a Consulate General)
He/she represents the Slovak Republic only in a certain territory and not in the entire country of accreditation. Consul General must hold a consular patent or a similar commission of appointment that gives his/her full name, function, category, class, consular district, and seat of the consular office. Consul General hands over the consular patent or commission of appointment to the representative of the government of the receiving country, either personally or in another manner, as appropriate.
To be able to assume his/her office, the head of a Consulate General is issued consent from the receiving state – a so-called exequatur.
Ambassador at Large
Ambassador at Large is assigned a concrete and specialised task by his/her state and is entrusted with carrying out a particular task in the given territory.
This is the most senior diplomatic rank. The Ambassador does not necessarily have to act as the head of a diplomatic mission, i. e., as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. The rank of Ambassador is considered to be the most senior career grade for a diplomatic officer. There is no direct relationship with the function of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. In some situations, several diplomats holding the rank of Ambassador may be posted to a larger and important diplomatic mission, but only one of them serves as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, i.e. the head of the diplomatic mission appointed by the president of the republic on a proposal by the minister of foreign affairs.
Attachés and special officers
Expressions used in common vernacular include such terms as commercial, cultural, military, air, police, etc. attachés. However, these terms are not related to the lowest diplomatic rank of “Attaché”. The vernacular name refers to the type of work performed by a diplomatic agent irrespective of their diplomatic rank. Thus, a cultural attaché may be conferred or breveted any diplomatic rank (i.e., not only that of an Attaché, but also that of a Counsellor, etc.). A more precise term would thus be a special officer.
Diplomats carry out a variety of tasks (irrespective of their diplomatic rank, whether conferred or breveted) at diplomatic missions – such as implementation of foreign policy agenda, trade and economic agenda, cultural agenda, etc. Depending on the place of assignment and the size of the diplomatic mission, the division of tasks among diplomats can be much more detailed.
Besides diplomats and administrative and technical staff, diplomatic missions of the Slovak Republic may also employ contract workers and local staff to carry out activities connected with the operation of a diplomatic mission.
Contract employees may be citizens of the Slovak Republic (e.g., the spouse of a temporarily assigned officer of the ministry of foreign affairs or other sectors) who enter into employment relationship with the ministry, provided that their contract of employment is not in conflict with the treaties and agreements binding on the Slovak Republic in relation to the country concerned.
Local staff may be citizens of the receiving state or citizens of another state legally residing in the receiving state.