[US Institutions] Departement / Secretary of State

Continuing our series of description of US federal institutions, we are today looking at the Department of State – very à propos considering the Wikileaks revelation of US diplomatic cables last week.

What is it ?

The Department of State is the foreign affairs executive department of the United States, and the oldest of those executive departments. It’s primary objectives are to protect the US citizens around the world and implementing the foreign policies defined by the President.

The Department of State helps other Department  (Department of Homeland security, …) and Federal Agencies (CIA, ..) in the foreign aspects of their missions

The Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is the head of the eponymous department. He (she at the moment) is the fourth in line for presidential succession. Added to the duties of diplomacy, the Secretary of State has some domestic duties, such as keeping and publishing the laws of the United States. when the President of Vice-President resigns, the letter of resignation has to be sent to the Secretary of State.

In the European Union

The treaty of Lisbon created the function of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the associated European External Action Service. The high representative function is designed to be the European Union diplomatic head, however the member states are keeping their specificities and their own diplomatic service. The Foreign affairs are also still discussed in the Council. The consequence is that EEAS and the high representative don’t have the same weight on the international scene as the US Secretary of State have.

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