Diplomacy in absence
April 24, 2009 4:13 AM   Subscribe

When an embassy acts as a proxy, representing the interests of a third country, what kind of compensation is made to them?

The US has asked Sweden to check on the status of two arrested journalists in North Korea, because the US does not have diplomatic contact there, and the Swiss represented US interests in Cuba for a while. What do countries like Sweden or Switzerland get out of such an arrangement, and is there a formal term for this?
posted by cmonkey to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Best answer: What you're looking for is "The United States Interests Section" of the requisite embassy, in this case Switzerland.

I've dealt with such proxy representatives while working in some East African nations that were very, very hostile to the interests of The United States.

It's my understanding these services are offered as a courtesy, not only to the countries involved (the United States and Iran in this case), but also to the broader international community.

What would Switzerland or Sweden get out of it? Influence, global recognition, and they chance to do some good.

After all, while governments may and often do publicly disagree, even to the point of throwing their toys out of the pram, they almost certainly are still speaking to each other. Sometimes these "off the record" conversations take place via formal channels (as detailed above), or they may be more clandestine.
posted by Mutant at 4:35 AM on April 24, 2009

Whoops! United States and North Korea; I had just finished typing an email and got distracted.
posted by Mutant at 4:37 AM on April 24, 2009

Best answer: An interests section is the name for what the sending state has in lieu of an embassy or the like; it is housed within a third state's embassy. It is used sometimes, but not all the time; e.g., not by the US in Iran (yet).

If you are asking what intermediary states are called in this relationship, when they serve as a go-between, I believe that when it is formalized and not ad hoc, they are called "protecting powers."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:32 AM on April 24, 2009

Sometimes the USINT is in the old US embassy building, like in Cuba. Years ago the diplomats who worked there actually had to "retire," go work there, then get "hired" again for their next tour.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2009

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