Concept

Plenipotentiary

Summary
A plenipotentiary (from the Latin plenus "full" and potens "powerful") is a diplomat who has full powers—authorization to sign a treaty or convention on behalf of his or her sovereign. When used as a noun more generally, the word can also refer to any person who has full powers. As an adjective, it describes something which confers full powers, such as an edict or an assignment. Before the era of rapid international transport or essentially instantaneous communication (such as telegraphy in the mid-19th century and then radio), diplomatic mission chiefs were granted full (plenipotentiary) powers to represent their government in negotiations with their host nation. Conventionally, any representations made or agreements reached with a plenipotentiary would be recognized and complied with by their government. Historically, the common generic term for high diplomats of the crown or state was minister. It therefore became customary to style the chiefs of full ranking missions as Minister Plenipotentiary. This position was roughly equivalent to the modern Ambassador, a term that historically was reserved mainly for missions between the great powers and also relating to the dogal (city) state of Venice. Permanent missions at a bilateral level were chiefly limited to relations between large, neighboring or closely allied powers, rarely to the very numerous small principalities, hardly worth the expense. Diplomatic missions were dispatched for specific tasks, such as negotiating a treaty bilaterally, or via a conference of plenipotentiaries, such as the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire. In such cases, it was normal to send a representative minister empowered to cast votes. For example, in the Peace Treaty of Versailles (1783), ending the American Revolution, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay were named "minister plenipotentiary of the United States" to the Netherlands, France and Spain, respectively. By the time of the Vienna Congress (1814–15), which codified diplomatic relations, Ambassador had become a common title, and was established as the only class above Minister Plenipotentiary.
About this result
This page is automatically generated and may contain information that is not correct, complete, up-to-date, or relevant to your search query. The same applies to every other page on this website. Please make sure to verify the information with EPFL's official sources.
Related publications

Loading

Related people

Loading

Related units

Loading

Related concepts

Loading

Related courses

Loading

Related lectures

Loading

Related MOOCs

Loading