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the Peace of Westphalia are the years of beginnings. From this time the system of permanent ministers, which so greatly changed the character of international negotiations, became almost a necessity through the development of the equilibrium of the states of Europe. 1
During the years 1648 to 1815 the relations of states became more complex, and the business of international negotiation more delicate. Diplomatic practice, always tending to look to precedent, suffered severe strains under the ambitious monarchs occupying the thrones of Europe after the Peace of Westphalia. Principles and precedent were often disregarded to obtain political ends. So great was the friction that at length some of the more commonly disputed questions were settled at the Congress of Vienna, 1815.
(6) The question of relative rank of state agents gave rise, in the days before the Congress of Vienna, to many difficulties. The protocol of that Congress of March 9, 1815, together with the eighth article adopted at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, Nov. 21, 1818, give the basis of present practice as follows:
“In order to prevent in future the inconveniences which have frequently occurred, and which may still occur, from the claims of Precedence among the different Diplomatic characters, the Plenipotentiaries of the Powers who signed the Treaty of Paris have agreed on the following Articles, and think it their duty to invite those of other Crowned Heads to adopt the same regulations :
1 Calvo, $ 1311 ff.
DIVISION OF DIPLOMATIC CHARACTERS ART. I. Diplomatic characters are divided into Three classes : That of Ambassadors, Legates, or Nuncios.
That of Envoys, Ministers, or other persons accredited to Sovereigns.
That of Chargés d'Affaires accredited to Ministers for foreign affairs.
REPRESENTATIVE CHARACTER ART. II. Ambassadors, Legates, or Nuncios only shall have the Representative character.
SPECIAL MISSIONS Art. III. Diplomatic characters charged with any special Mission shall not, on that account, assume any superiority - of Rank.
DIPLOMATIC PRECEDENCE ART. IV. Diplomatic characters shall rank in their respective classes according to the date of the official notification of their arrival.
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE POPE The present Regulation shall not occasion any change respecting the Representative of the Pope.
FORM FOR RECEPTION OF DIPLOMATIC AGENTS ART. V. There shall be a regular form adopted by each State for the reception of Diplomatic Characters of every Class.
DIPLOMATIC AGENTS OF COURTS ALLIED BY FAMILY
OR OTHER TIES ART. VI. Ties of consanguinity or family alliance between Courts confer no Rank on their Diplomatic Agents. The same rule also applies to political alliances.
ALTERATION OF SIGNATURES IN ACTS OR TREATIES
ART. VII. In Acts or Treaties between several Powers that admit alternity, the order which is to be observed in the signatures of Ministers shall be decided by ballot. .
ART. VIII. It is agreed between the Five Courts that Ministers Resident accredited to them shall form, with respect to their Precedence, an intermediate class between Ministers of the Second Class and Chargés d'Affaires.” 2
To the articles, except the last, Austria, Spain, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden were parties. Spain, Portugal, and Sweden were not parties to the eighth article. Theoretically these rules are binding only upon those states parties to the treaties, but practically they are accepted by all civilized states.
The four grades are as follows: —
2. Envoys, ministers, or other persons accredited to sovereigns.
3. Ministers resident.
The first three grades are accredited to the sovereign. The fourth grade, chargés d'affaires, is accredited to the minister of foreign affairs.
The rank of the agent does not necessarily have any relation to the importance of the business which may be intrusted to him. The titles given to the different diplomatic agents, at the present time, are in a general way descriptive, as follows:
1 1. Hertslet, 62, 63.
2 1. Hertslet, 575. These rules have been adopted by the U. S. Department of State,
(1) Diplomatic agents of the first class are held to represent the person of the sovereign. Ambassador ordinary usually designates one holding a permament mission. Ambassador extraordinary designates one on a special mission, or having power to act in exceptional circumstances. This, however, is most often a title of somewhat superior honor giving no other advantage. Papal legates rank, and for practical purposes, are, ambassadors extraordinary, though representing particularly ecclesiastical affairs and the Pope as head of the Church. Legates are chosen from the cardinals and sent to countries recognizing the papal supremacy. Nuncios of the Pope rank as ambassadors ordinary on a permanent mission, and are usually intrusted with power to transact general affairs. 1
(2) Envoys extraordinary, envoys ordinary, and ministers plenipotentiary have in general the same functions and rank. With these rank the papal internuncio. The general idea is that the agents of the second class do not stand for the person of the sovereign, but for the state.
(3) Ministers resident are regarded as upon a less important mission than the agents of the first or second class. They are frequently sent by the greater powers to the lesser powers.
(4) Chargés d'affaires ceremonially rank below the ministers resident. They are accredited to the minister of foreign affairs, while members of the first three classes are accredited to the sovereign. A chargé d'affaires may perform the functions of the higher grades
1 Calvo, 1328 ff.
of agents and has the same general privileges. When a consul is charged with a diplomatic mission he ranks with the chargés d'affaires. Commissioners on various missions are sometimes accorded the same rank ; but, as they do not bear the title, commissioners cannot claim the rank of the chargé d'affaires, though in their functions there may be no difference.
There is no rule as to the grade of diplomatic agent which one state shall send to another, though it was formerly held that only states entitled to royal honors could send ambassadors. It is now customary for states to agree among themselves as to the relative rank of their diplomatic agent. Thus the United States by a recent act provided that “whenever the President shall be advised that any foreign government is represented or is about to be represented in the United States by an ambassador, envoy extraordinary, minister plenipotentiary, minister resident, or special, envoy or chargé d'affaires, he is authorized in his discretion to direct that the representative of United States to such government shall bear the same designation. This provision shall in no wise affect the duties, powers, or salary of such representative.” 1
The rank of a diplomatic agent is a mark of dignity and honor particularly of consequence in matters of etiquette and ceremonial. Reciprocity between states is the general rule in the grade of agents. The old theory that agents of the first rank had access to the ear of the sovereign is no longer held, and all grades alike represent both the sovereign and the state from which they come.
1 March 1, 1893, 27 U. S. Sts. at Large, c. 182.