a woman wearing a headscarf and glasses kneeling between two children in wheelchairs holding basketballs on an indoor basketball court

Who is a diplomat?

Much like the United States itself, U.S. diplomats are a diverse group of people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.

Diplomats work both in formal and informal settings. A formal setting could be negotiating a peace agreement or hammering out the terms of a security treaty. An informal setting could be meeting local school children abroad or helping map areas after a natural disaster. 

Individual qualifications for being a diplomat vary based on their type of work. In all settings, diplomats use personal relationships to advocate for U.S. interests. U.S. diplomats work with officials and citizens of the host country on common causes. Throughout this work, diplomats explain U.S. society and values.

A group of people converse outdoors
The Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Blaser chats with Karamajong Warriors.
A man removes material from a wheelbarrow with a group of people in the background
Embassy staff members help make bricks for a cooperative group in Hatcliffe Extension in Harare. (State Department image, U.S. Embassy Harare)

U.S. diplomats have a clear mission: to carry out the foreign policy of the United States. This manifests in a variety of responsibilities. For example, diplomats work to advance American business interests. They protect the United States from harm via counter-terrorism operations. Diplomats welcome foreign visitors and scholars by providing travel and student visas. They also ensure the safety of international flights. 

Diplomats also help keep the world stable. They assist foreign governments and foster international collaboration and relationships between global leaders. They also deliver humanitarian aid to people in need. 

Americans living and traveling abroad also benefit from the work of diplomats. They can turn to embassies for help in positive situations, such as registering the birth of a child. They can also seek help in negative situations, such as evacuating a country during a crisis.

Diplomats work on a wide variety of issues, even beyond those listed here. They are key players in protecting and maintaining a peaceful global community. 

For more information on what diplomats do, look at the careers page of the U.S. Department of State.

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