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In diplomacy, an attaché is a person who is assigned ("to be attached") to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency.[citation needed] Although a loanword from French, in English the word is not modified according to gender.[1][2]

An attaché is normally an official, who serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff, under the authority of an ambassador or other head of a diplomatic mission, mostly in intergovernmental organizations or international non-governmental organisations or agencies. Attachés monitor various issues related to their area of specialty (see examples below) that may require some action. To this end, attachés may undertake the planning for events to be attended, decisions which will be taken, managing arrangements and agendas, conducting research, and acting as a representative of the interests of their state when necessary, to the types of organizations mentioned above, and also to national academies and to industry.

Sometimes an attaché has special responsibilities or expertise. Examples include a cultural attaché, customs attaché, police officer attaché, labor attaché, legal attaché, liaison officer attaché, military/defense attaché, press attaché, agricultural attaché, commercial attaché, maritime attaché and science attaché.

Military attaché[edit]

Typically, a military attaché serves on the diplomatic staff of an embassy or consulate while retaining a military commission.

Science attaché[edit]

A science attaché advises on issues pertaining to science and technology.[3]

Health attaché[edit]

A health attaché advises on global health issues and may serve multiple functions.[4]

Holy See[edit]

The title is also used in reference to diplomacy and in the hierarchical administration of the Catholic Church, specifically in the Roman Curia, in cases where a priest, usually in the diplomatic corps of the Holy See or else released for service to the Holy See, serves in a nunciature in a given country or to an international or intergovernmental organization. Especially in the latter cases, the official often provides a particular expertise in the service of the Church, thus, legal or otherwise.


In the ministries of the Belgian federal state the term is used, since 2005 replacing the term adjunct-adviseur (in Dutch) or conseiller-adjoint (in French), normally used for college graduates, one rank under the head of a competence section.[citation needed]


In Colombia attachés are increasingly being appointed at younger ages.[citation needed] This is part of the policy of political liberalization enacted by President Álvaro Uribe.[citation needed] The attachés are generally appointed from the great families of Colombian history, most recently the House of Restrepo [es] gaining increasing prominence.[citation needed] This policy has been described by former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "bringing fresh ideas into the diplomatic community, by giving a voice to our young and building the great leaders of our future".[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "attaché". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-03-24. "Attachée" is not listed, either as an alternate form under attaché or as a separate entry.
  2. ^ "attaché". Cambridge Dictionaries online. Retrieved 2016-03-24. Definition of attaché from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press. "Attachée" is not listed, either as an alternate form under attaché or as a separate entry.
  3. ^ Linkov, Igor (2014-03-13). "Diplomacy for Science Two Generations Later". Science & Diplomacy. 3 (1).
  4. ^ Brown, Matthew. "Bridging Public Health and Foreign Affairs". Science & Diplomacy. 3 (3).