A démarche is a formal diplomatic representation of one government’s official position, views, or wishes on a given subject to an appropriate official in another government or international organization. Demarches generally seek to persuade, inform, or gather information from a foreign government. Governments may also use a demarche to protest or object to actions by a foreign government.
A U.S. Government demarche to a foreign government is made on the basis of front-channel cable instructions from the Department of State. Although the content of a given demarche may originate in another U.S. Government agency, only the State Department may also instruct a post to deliver the demarche. Unless specifically authorized by the State Department, posts should not act on instructions transmitted directly from another post, or from another agency, whether by cable or other means (e.g., e-mail, FAX, or phone).
Any State Department officer or other official under the authority of the chief of mission can make a demarche. Unless the Department provides specific instructions as to rank (e.g., “the Ambassador should call on the Foreign Minister”), the post has discretion to determine who should make the presentation and which official(s) in the host government should receive it.
Preparation of the Demarche
Demarche instruction cables from the Department should include the following elements: (1) OBJECTIVE: The objective is a clear statement of the purpose of the demarche, and of what the U.S. Government hopes to achieve. (2) ARGUMENTS: This section outlines how the Department proposes to make an effective case for its views. It should include a rationale for the U.S. Government’s position, supporting arguments, likely counter-arguments, and suggested rebuttals. (3) BACKGROUND: The background should spell out pitfalls; particular sensitivities of other bureaus, departments, or agencies; and any other special considerations. (4) SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS: Suggested talking points should be clear, conversational, and logically organized. Unless there are compelling reasons to require verbatim delivery, the demarche instruction cable should make it clear that post may use its discretion and local knowledge to structure and deliver the message in the most effective way. (“Embassy may draw from the following points in making this presentation to appropriate host government officials.”) (5) WRITTEN MATERIAL: Use this section to provide instructions on any written material to be left with the host government official(s). Such material could take the form of an aide-memoire, a letter, or a “non-paper” that provides a written version of the verbal presentation (i.e., the talking points as delivered). Unless otherwise instructed, post should normally provide an aide-memoire or non-paper at the conclusion of a demarche. Classified aide-memoire or non-paper must be appropriately marked and caveated as to the countries authorized for receipt, i.e., Rel. U.K. (Releasable to U.K.)
Delivery and Follow-up Action
Upon receipt of demarche instructions from the Department, post should make every effort to deliver the demarche to the appropriate foreign government official(s) as soon as possible.
After delivering the demarche, post should report to the Department via front-channel cable. The reporting cable should include the instruction cable as a reference, but it need not repeat the talking points transmitted in that cable. It should provide the name and title of the person(s) to whom the demarche was made, and record that official’s response to the presentation. As appropriate, the reporting cable should also describe any specific follow-up action needed by post, Department, or the foreign government.