Two days ago there were rumors Britain and France may recall their ambassadors from Israel. Why is that a political action? It seems that that would harm the citizens of the sending countries in the receiving country rather than the receiving country itself?

What are the consequences of recalling ambassadors?


2 Answers 2


Given that while an Ambassador is the formal representative of a State to a foreign government, if he is recalled the delegation (embassy staff et al) can remain at their post.

Thus it is a purely political signal to show the discontent of a government with a foreign government. Citizens are not harmed as the representations (embassies and consulates) will remain working until they are explicitly closed. But this is independent of the recall of an ambassador.

In former times recalling the ambassador was a way to guarantee that he could be briefed on current issues and go back on his post with new directions which were too sensitive to entrust to postal services. Nowadays this doesn't hold true anymore, so in consequence it is purely a political statement.

  • It is the moral equivalent of blocking a friend you had a fight with from your facebook account temporarily.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 6, 2021 at 20:17

The action itself is technically called consultation, which is the action of asking the ambassador personally about critical topics or situations. The head of State or the Minister of Foreign Affairs are typically the ones who call for consultation; remember, that, after all, the ambassador is the personal representative of one State. Politically speaking, the affected country is not happy with some actions the other country did; When the ambassador leaves the country, the rest of the diplomatic relations can still work; however, communications between the two countries is going to be very difficult.

When you google the phrase "consultation of ambassador", you're going to see this is the most common action when a country is not satisfied with the other country's action. Normally, it takes two or three months (some cases a year) to normalize the relations; to cut the diplomatic relations will be the last method but normally, 99% of cases never end with broken diplomatic relations.

As Indonesia's attorney general said:

“The Netherlands have done the same thing in the past. Brazil has done the same thing. I think this is just a momentary reaction, and this will be settled within the diplomatic sphere. What we are doing is carrying out the court decision. Every case should have an end.”

Either way, like in this case specifically, both countries know this kind of incident is not such a big politic, diplomatic or economic deal in order to take critical decisions or impose sanctions. Indonesia's Minister of Foreign Affairs said:

“Every time we communicate with Australia, we always emphasize the desire of Indonesia to continue the good relationship. For Indonesia, Australia is an important partner, and I think for Australia, Indonesia is an important partner.”

In conclusion, to withdraw the ambassador, in this particular case (the Indonesian case), is a political measure.

  • By saying that communications between two countries is going to be difficult - is that in the sense of essentially removing a translator for the country who has the ambassadorship? Dec 7, 2021 at 7:13

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