Diplomatic Precedence

Protocol, among other things, implies also a procedure according to which participants in a certain ceremonial event are given proper places under the arrangements made for that occasion, in accordance with their rank, title or position, or prerogatives belonging to every participant according to the objective opinion of a community or a state.

This means that a particular person, because of his/her position, is considered more important than others and treated accordingly. Precedence is the order made according to rank or the entitlement of a person to a place or honours in relation to other persons participating in an official or ceremonial event. In practice, a distinction is made between precedence according to entitlement according to privileges and precedence based on courtesy. Observing precedence is extremely important during official and sometimes even during private functions. An error of procedure in protocol may lead to a disharmony of the ceremonial function as a whole.

Precedence is the order of state and social positions according to which the holders of these positions are placed on ceremonial occasions. The established precedence is formulated into a list containing the order of precedence. In almost every society this list is occasionally drawn up and changed and adapted to the new realities, from time to time. This list is also made for their own needs by companies, institutions, municipalities, regions, provinces, state institutions and, of course, by the state.

Precedence may be of an official or internal nature. Precedence and the level of its obligatory character depend also on the nature of a ceremonial event, namely, whether it is international, domestic with a foreign element or domestic/internal.

Errors made with respect to precedence are very grave indeed, if made by a protocol officer. The established and accepted order of precedence is a point of departure for any involvement of the Protocol, from organizing the order of arrivals and departures, seating arrangements, to introduction of distinguished guests. In many countries, failure to recognize or honour the appropriate rank and order of precedence of a guest is equal to an insult to his position and the country he/she represents. That was the reason why even wars were unleashed in the past.

The Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs looks after the order of precedence of permanent or temporary heads of missions, according to the dates and time of the presentation of their Letters of Credence, their Commission or Letters of Introduction, or of their assumption of duties. The precedence list is only for official purposes and not for private occasions.

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