Doyen and doyenne (from the French word doyen, doyenne in the feminine grammatical gender) is the senior ambassador by length of service in a particular country.[1]

The Apostolic Nuncio Ivo Scapolo, as Doyen, is the single member of the diplomatic corps in attendance at the second inauguration of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal, held in March 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the English language, the meaning of doyen (feminine form: doyenne) has been borrowed from French to refer to any senior member of a group,[2] particularly one whose knowledge or abilities exceed those of other members. In the United States and other English-speaking countries, the title of Dean is often used for the seniormost member the diplomatic corps.[3]

In many Catholic countries, the doyen of the diplomatic corps is the Apostolic Nuncio regardless of the length of service. In a number of former colonies in Africa, the ambassador of the former metropolis holds this position.

Doyen or Dean can only be a diplomatic representative of the highest class — an ambassador or a papal nuncio (in some Catholic countries — only a nuncio, regardless of the time of accreditation, in Togo — only the ambassador of the FRG, and in Burkina Faso — only one of the ambassadors of African countries).[4] The foreman's activities, for example, include instructing colleagues about local diplomatic customs. The moment of seniority of the heads of representative offices of the corresponding class in the diplomatic corps is determined by the date and hour of entry into the performance of their functions (in the practice of modern states, this moment is considered the time of presenting the credentials).[5]

In most countries, the longest-serving ambassador to a country is given the title doyen of the Diplomatic Corps. The doyen is often accorded a high position in the order of precedence. In New Zealand, for example, the doyen takes precedence over figures such as the deputy prime minister and former governors-general.[6]

In many countries that have Roman Catholicism as the official or dominant religion, the apostolic nuncio (the diplomatic representative of the Holy See) serves as doyen by virtue of his office, regardless of seniority;[7] in other cases, the nuncio is treated as an ordinary ambassador of the Holy See and has no special precedence. The Congress of Vienna and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provided that any country may choose to give nuncios a different precedence than other ambassadors.[8]

The diplomatic corps may also cooperate amongst itself on a number of matters, including certain dealings with the host government. In practical terms, the dean of the diplomatic corps may have a role to play in negotiating with local authorities regarding the application of aspects of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and diplomatic immunity, such as the payment of certain fees or taxes, since the receiving country is required "not to discriminate between states". In this sense, the dean has the role of representing the entire diplomatic corps for matters that affect the corps as a whole, although this function is rarely formalized.


  1. ^ "Diplomacy - Modern diplomatic practice | Britannica".
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed. 1998
  3. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "In der russischen Botschaft, jetzt praktisch ganz ohne NATO (M. Nachtrag) – Augen geradeaus!".
  5. ^ Anciennitätenliste des Auswärtigen Amts, PDF-Dok. ca. 405 kB, abgerufen am 14. Januar 2019, wird ständig aktualisiert.
  6. ^ "Order of Precedence in New Zealand" (PDF). Website of the Governor-General of New Zealand. New Zealand Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  7. ^ Hyginus Eugene Cardinale, The Holy See and the International Order (ISBN 0-900675-60-8), p. 160. Quote: "The right to precedence of all permanent papal representatives regardless of their title, from 1815-1849 was generally acknowledged and admitted without contestation by the governments of all the European States and of South America, and without any objection being raised by the diplomats accredited to these States, not even on the part of the British envoys. Such, for example, was the case of the internuncios Mgr Francesco Capaccini in Holland (1829-1831), Mgr Pasquale Gizzi (1835-1837) and Mgr Raffaele Fornari (1838-1841) in Belgium, Mgr Antonio Garibaldi in France (1836-1843) and all the papal diplomatic representatives with the title of apostolic delegate and envoy extraordinary in the various South American republics."
  8. ^ "Regulation of Vienna on the classification of diplomatic agents" (PDF). Yearbook of the International Law Commission (in French). Vol. II. 1957. p. 135.