List of French and Latin Vocabulary

The UN is riddled with acronyms and French-Latin terms that a layman will not understand. Mastering the necessary vocabulary and acronyms used in specific organizations is an absolute must and will prepare you to efficiently navigate contexts and environments like a pro. Such UN-ese knowledge will enhance your ability to work effectively within different settings, allowing you to perform your diplomatic functions at your best.

We have prepared a short cheat sheet of the most commonly used vocabulary in English diplomatic language. You may wish to refer to our article How to Speak UN for further lists and detail.

 

French Diplomatic Terms

Acte final: a formal statement summarizing the results of a conference between representatives of two or more States or parties.

Aide mémoire: a written summary of key points of an official conversation between diplomats. Literally, a document left with the other party to the conversation, either at the time of the conversation or subsequently, as an aid to memory.

Attaché: a specialist assigned to the staff of a diplomatic mission.

Chargé d’affaires a.i. (ad interim): designates the officer who acts as head of mission when the post is vacant, or when the ambassador is temporarily absent or unable to perform his or her duties.

Communiqué: a brief public summary statement issued following important bilateral or multilateral meetings.

Concordat: an agreement or treaty between one or more nations and the Vatican.

Détente: an easing of tension between opposing parties.

Entente: a close understanding between two or more nations with similar interests or objectives, resulting in an oral or written agreement less formal and binding than a treaty.

P.F. (Pour Féliciter): to extend congratulations.

P.M. (Pour Mémoire): to remind.

P.P. (Pour Présenter): to introduce.

P.P.C. (Pour Prendre Congé): to say goodbye.

P.R. (Pour Remercier): to express thanks.

Rapporteur: a representative of a committee or a subcommittee responsible for preparing a summary report of its discussions, proceedings and conclusions.

Rapprochement: establishment of improved relations between any two parties.

Tour d’horizon: a discussion between diplomats of different nations covering issues of current and common concern.

 

Latin Diplomatic Terms 

Ad referendum: usually an agreement reached by negotiators at the table, subject to finalization of details and the subsequent concurrence of their governments.

Casus belli: cause of war, reason to start a war.

De facto: in fact, existing as a matter of fact rather than of right.

De jure: of law; as a matter of legal right; by right.

Exequatur: a document issued by the government of a host nation that authorizes a diplomat to perform his or her duties in that nation.

Ex gratia: an action performed as a gesture of good will and not on the basis of an accepted legal obligation.

In statu quo ante: the way things were before.

Jus ad bellum: refers to the conditions under which States may resort to war or to the use of armed force in general.

Jus in bello: law of war; regulates the conduct of parties engaged in an armed conflict.

Lingua franca: common language.

Manu militari: literally with a military hand; using weapons and the military force to solve a dispute instead of engaging in dialogue and talks.

Modus vivendi: a temporary interim written agreement, pending the negotiation of more definitive arrangements.

Nuncio: the diplomatic representative of the Holy See.

Pacta sunt servanda: literally “treaties are to be honoured”; meaning that States and international organisations must carry out or comply with the provisions of the treaties to which they are party.

Pax: literally “peace”; a period of peace and international stability usually under the influence of a military power.

Persona non grata: a representative of a State person who is no longer acceptable to the receiving country. By extension, any such representative or person in any other situation or context.