Ambassadors and Consuls
Powers And Duties
The powers of an ambassador are specified in his or her credentials, or documents of introduction, which the ambassador submits to the foreign government. In addition to responsibility for political negotiations, an American ambassador may initiate legal proceedings on behalf of the United States and defend suits instituted against it. A foreign ambassador in the United States has similar duties regarding his or her government.
In general, a consul is authorized to safeguard the legal rights and property interests of the citizens of his or her country and to appear in court to ascertain that the laws of the nation where he or she is assigned are administered impartially to all of the ambassador's compatriots. A U.S. citizen who has legal difficulties in a foreign country should consult the United States consul.
Consuls are also empowered and obligated to protect the estates of their countrymen and-women who die within their consular districts. This duty terminates when the decedent's heirs are represented by an attorney.