The Ambassador Series

A presentation and discussion series sponsored by the
United Nations Association of New York




Do Ambassadors really hold the world in their hands? How much authority do they have with respect to their countries or missions? What is the difference between an ambassador and a "permanent representative"?

The Ambassador Series is a showcase hosted by the United Nations Association of New York at the Columbia University Club, offering a unique opportunity for UNA members and the public at large to engage with these distinguished players on the international stage, as they share their perspectives and insights from the wealth of their experience in diplomatic practice and accomplishment.

What is an Ambassador?

As a Chief of Mission at the national level, the important duty of an ambassador is to represent the interests of his or her country to foreign governments. Because those interests shift over time, it is a highly complex job which requires them to perform a successful balancing act between policy and diplomacy, not to mention a substantial degree of involvement in the activities of their mission.

U.S. Ambassadors generally begin their careers as foreign service officers, representing America's interests abroad and implementing its foreign policy in diverse career functions. More than ordinary diplomats, as the president's top representatives to other nations their cumulative experience allows them to enjoy a high level of respect and prestige, and many sustain careers as professional diplomats.

Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states. The range of issues requiring international diplomacy include peace-making, trade, war, economics, culture, environment, and human rights. Since many international treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to political endorsement at home, their informal diplomatic engagements can serve strategic advantages while finding mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge. To be sure, their position demands an expert grasp of policy issues, as well as a capacity to communicate in a non-confrontational, polite manner.

Ambassadors also get much assistance from specialists to help with trade negotiations, and from other experienced administrators and experts working for them. However, since most missions are now headed by an ambassador, their own multi-tasking can also assume various responsibilities, such as: overseeing the activities of their respective missions; directing and coordinating all executive branch offices and personnel; conducting regular reviews of embassy inter-communications, programs, and funding levels; and taking direct responsibility for the security of the mission.

Serving with excellence, these Chiefs of Mission maintain the highest standards of diplomatic discretion and ethical conduct — at many levels.

What is a Permanent Representative?

A Permanent Representative holds the equivalent diplomatic rank of an ambassador (or Chief of Mission or High Commissioner), however, he or she is accredited to an international organization, such as the United Nations — and not to a Head of State (as a nation's ambassador would be) or to a Head of Government (as a High Commissioner would be).

The United States, like many other countries, calls its UN Permanent Representatives "UN ambassadors." In this case, it is critical for the UN ambassador to regularly report to the U.S. State Department and make recommendations based on UN activities. For example, ambassadors to the UN can vary support on budgetary matters, various resolutions, as well as the confirmation of an incumbent UN Secretary-General.

The most high-profile UN Permanent Representatives are assigned to headquarters in New York City, while member states also appoint Permanent Representatives to the other UN offices in Geneva (Switzerland), Vienna (Austria), and Nairobi (Kenya).

The Ambassador Series

While we should never expect absolute perfection of a diplomat, there are many essential qualities which make up an ambassador, not only a dedication to ethically effective communication. Today the horizon of diplomacy has widened under the influence of many factors: the threat of universal destruction, the growing interconnection of economic interests, the vast movements of populations, and the diffusion of technical knowledge, to name just a few. It is therefore a tribute to the intellectual and moral qualities of the diplomat in question, to be able to weigh national interests against universal interests — and to sometimes take the difficult but necessary side as circumstances dictate.

We sincerely hope you will be inspired to attend our Ambassador Series presentations, and discover why these figures are some of the most important players on the international stage, why they deserve your interest and attention, your sincerest questions and inquiries (yes, please bring them!) as mutual citizens of a global society, and of course — your warmest support.

Read "Qualifications of an Ambassador" by Ambassador Francis de Laboulaye


2 0 1 8


Ambassador Cho Tae-yul
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN


2 0 1 7


Ambassador François Delattre
Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations


2 0 1 6


Ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez
Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations


2 0 1 5


Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate:
Illegal Trade in Wildlife

Ambassador Charles Thembani Ntwaagae
Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN

Ambassador Heiko Thoms
Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Deputy Do Hung Viet
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Viet Nam to the UN


Southeast Asia in the International Arena

Ambassador Kyaw Tin
Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations

Ambassador Desra Percaya
Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations

Ambassador Karen Tan
Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations


2 0 1 4


Ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake
Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations


Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering
U.S. Ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan

Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations


2 0 1 3

Ambassador Masood Khan
Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations

Ambassador Christopher R. Hill
U.S. Ambassador to Irag, Republic of Korea, Poland, and Macedonia


2 0 1 2

A Modern Evolution: The Role of the EU in Global Affairs

Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting
Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations

Ambassador Anne Anderson
Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations

Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba Góngora
Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations

Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri
Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

Ambassador Carsten Staur
Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations

Ambassador Namik Tan
Turkish Ambassador to the United States


2 0 1 1

Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations

Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon
Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations


2 0 1 0

Ambassador Cesare Ragaglini
Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations


2 0 0 9

Ambassador T. Hamid Al-Bayati
Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations

Ambassador Gabriela Shalev
Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations


2 0 0 8

Ambassador Heraldo Munoz
Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations

Ambassador Maged A. Abdelaziz
Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
United States Ambassador to the United Nations


2 0 0 7

H.E. Mr. Dan Gillerman
Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations

Ambassador Martin Palous
Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations


2 0 0 6

Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Lřj
Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations

Ambassador Munir Akram
Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations

Ambassador Gunter Pleuger
Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations


2 0 0 5

Ambassador Judith Mbula Bahemuka
Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations

Ambassador Ahmad Kamal
President and CEO, Ambassadors Club at the United Nations


2 0 0 4

Ambassador Allan Rock
Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations


2 0 0 3

Ambassador Richard N. Gardner
Former U.S. Ambassador to Italy and Spain


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Starting February 14


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