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A permanent representative is the head of a diplomatic mission to one of various international organisations. The best known of the organisations to which states send permanent representatives is the United Nations (see United Nations Permanent Representative); of these, the most high-profile ones are those assigned to headquarters in New York City, but member states also appoint permanent representatives to the other UN offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.
Permanent representatives are often colloquially described as "ambassadors"; however, although a permanent representative typically holds the personal rank of an ambassador, he or she is accredited to an international organisation, and not to a head of state (as an ambassador would be) or to a head of government (as a high commissioner within the Commonwealth or lower-ranking legation head, as low as chargé d'affaires, would be).
A person can also be appointed as a permanent representative of a country to NATO.
UNESCO accredits permanent delegates heading the diplomatic missions to the organisation, not permanent representatives.