Suppose, a diplomat Mr. 'A' of a country 'X' is posted in another country 'Y'. Because for some reason, country X is in a diplomatically awkward position in front of Y. Say, the government of Y summons Mr. 'A' for an explanation.

What would he do or say in front of the government of Y? What is the general protocol?

I believe that he would try to calm the government of Y.

However, what if the situation is really bad?

  • 5
    It is going to depend on the situation, what they do for situation A might be the exact opposite of what they would do for situation B. Not to mention that different countries/ambassadors might handle the matters completely different from each other depending the relationships between countries and the attitudes/power of both countries. There is no one single answer for this question.
    – Joe W
    Jun 13 at 13:08
  • 1
    "What is the general protocol?" Maybe something along: With regret I take note of ... and promise to consult with my government in this regard. Basically just an acknowledgement, I could imagine. "...if the situation is really bad?" What do you mean by really bad? Something like X fired accidentally some nuclear missiles at Y bad or less bad? If an ambassador is summoned, it's usually medium bad only.
    – Trilarion
    Jun 13 at 15:21
  • @Trilarion, i.e. explation is not enough.
    – user366312
    Jun 13 at 15:22
  • Somewhat broad question, but generally answerable in terms of protocol. If in doubt see e.g. bbc.com/news/world-48949534 Voting to reopen.
    – Fizz
    Jun 13 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


As noted in the comments, the ambassador's specific message will depend on the situation and on the country's goals, which could be anything from fixing a mistake to going to war. In general, diplomacy involves a lot of face saving, but that still says more about how a diplomat might say something more than about what might be said.

The general protocol is that the ambassador goes to the host country's foreign minister and says whatever needs saying, couched in formal terms and preceded by formal expressions of pleasure and agreeableness. The omission of such pleasantries or, more likely, their modification ("I bring you this message" rather than "it gives me great pleasure to assure your government of my country's warmest sentiments in conveying to you this message") can be used to signal the seriousness of the situation or the degree to which diplomatic relations are threatened.

If the situation is really bad, the communication may be fairly perfunctory if the sending country does not wish to repair the relationship, or it may be excessively deferent if the country does wish to repair it. If it's really, really bad, the summoning will end with (in increasing order of severity) the expulsion of some lower level diplomats, of the ambassador, or of the entire diplomatic mission. Traditionally one might also fear a declaration of war in such a scenario, but declared war has been uncommon in the last eight decades or so.

  • 2
    Reporters might translate the diplomatic "code" into labels like "cordial" or "correct." Perhaps even "icy" ...
    – o.m.
    Jun 13 at 15:28

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