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

An attaché is normally an official, under the authority of an ambassador or other head of a diplomatic mission, who serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff. They monitor various issues related to areas of intervention. To this end, they may undertake the planning for decisions which will be taken and make all necessary arrangements, manage the agenda, conduct research for the study of particular matters, and act as representative when necessary.

Sometimes an attaché has special responsibilities or expertise. Examples include a cultural attaché, customs attaché, labor attaché, legal attaché, military/defense attaché (or more specifically, naval attaché, air attaché), press attaché, agricultural attaché, commercial attaché, and science attaché.

Military attaché

Main article: Military attaché
See also: Air attaché

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

Science attaché

Main article: science attaché

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

Health attaché

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

Holy See

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.


In Colombia attachés are increasingly being appointed at younger ages. This is part of the policy of political liberalization enacted by President Álvaro Uribe. The attachés are generally appointed from the great families of Colombian history, most recently the House of Restrepo gaining increasing prominence. 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".

See also

Look up attaché in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Notes and references

  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).


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