Sir Harold Nicolson and International Relations: The Practitioner As Theorist

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They will have worked hard to understand the motives, thought patterns and culture of the other side. The diplomat should be an excellent negotiator but, above all, a catalyst for peace and understanding between people.

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The diplomat's principal role is to foster peaceful relations between states. This role takes on heightened importance if war breaks out. Negotiation must necessarily continue — but within significantly altered contexts. Most career diplomats have university degrees in international relations , political science , economics , or law.

Diplomats have generally been considered members of an exclusive and prestigious profession. The public image of diplomats has been described as "a caricature of pinstriped men gliding their way around a never-ending global cocktail party".

Andrew F. Cooper, Jorge Heine, and Ramesh Thakur

Burton has noted that "despite the absence of any specific professional training, diplomacy has a high professional status, due perhaps to a degree of secrecy and mystery that its practitioners self-consciously promote. The high regard for diplomats is also due to most countries' conspicuous selection of diplomats, with regard to their professionalism and ability to behave according to a certain etiquette , in order to effectively promote their interests. Also, international law grants diplomats extensive privileges and immunities , which further distinguishes the diplomat from the status of an ordinary citizen.