In the English language, the meaning of doyen (and the less common doyenne) has extended from the French definition to also refer to any senior member of a group, particularly one whose knowledge or abilities exceed those of other members.
Doyen is the head of the diplomatic corps, the senior diplomatic representative in diplomatic class and by the time of accreditation in a given country.
In many Catholic countries, the doyenne of the diplomatic corps is the Apostolic Nuncio, in a number of former colonies in Africa - the ambassador of the former metropolis.
Doyen can only be a diplomatic representative of the highest class - an ambassador or a papal nuncio (in some Catholic countries - only a nuncio, regardless of the time of accreditation, in Togo - only the ambassador of the FRG, and in Burkina Faso - only one of the ambassadors of African countries). The foreman's activities, for example, include instructing colleagues about local diplomatic customs. The moment of seniority of the heads of representative offices of the corresponding class in the diplomatic corps is determined by the date and hour of entry into the performance of their functions (in the practice of modern states, this moment is considered the time of presenting the credentials).
In most countries, the longest-serving ambassador to a country is given the title doyen of the Diplomatic Corps. The doyen is often accorded a high position in the order of precedence. In New Zealand, for example, the doyen takes precedence over figures such as the deputy prime minister and former governors-general.
In many countries that have Roman Catholicism as the official or dominant religion, the apostolic nuncio (the diplomatic representative of the Holy See) serves as doyen by virtue of his office, regardless of seniority; in other cases, the nuncio is treated as an ordinary ambassador of the Holy See and has no special precedence. The Congress of Vienna and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provided that any country may choose to give nuncios a different precedence than other ambassadors.
The diplomatic corps may also cooperate amongst itself on a number of matters, including certain dealings with the host government. In practical terms, the dean of the diplomatic corps may have a role to play in negotiating with local authorities regarding the application of aspects of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and diplomatic immunity, such as the payment of certain fees or taxes, since the receiving country is required "not to discriminate between states". In this sense, the dean has the role of representing the entire diplomatic corps for matters that affect the corps as a whole, although this function is rarely formalized.
- Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed. 1998
- Anciennitätenliste des Auswärtigen Amts, PDF-Dok. ca. 405 kB, abgerufen am 14. Januar 2019, wird ständig aktualisiert.
- "Order of Precedence in New Zealand" (PDF). Website of the Governor-General of New Zealand. New Zealand Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Hyginus Eugene Cardinale, The Holy See and the International Order (ISBN 0-900675-60-8), p. 160. Quote: "The right to precedence of all permanent papal representatives regardless of their title, from 1815-1849 was generally acknowledged and admitted without contestation by the governments of all the European States and of South America, and without any objection being raised by the diplomats accredited to these States, not even on the part of the British envoys. Such, for example, was the case of the internuncios Mgr Francesco Capaccini in Holland (1829-1831), Mgr Pasquale Gizzi (1835-1837) and Mgr Raffaele Fornari (1838-1841) in Belgium, Mgr Antonio Garibaldi in France (1836-1843) and all the papal diplomatic representatives with the title of apostolic delegate and envoy extraordinary in the various South American republics."
- "Regulation of Vienna on the classification of diplomatic agents" (PDF). Yearbook of the International Law Commission (in French). II. 1957. p. 135.