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What Does the Secretary of State Do

The role of the Secretary of State is one of the most crucial and multifaceted in the United States government. As the head of the Department of State, the Secretary plays an integral part in shaping and guiding the country’s foreign policy and relations with other nations. This article delves into the various responsibilities and functions that are central to the Secretary of State’s position.

Diplomatic Role

One of the primary functions of the Secretary of State is to act as the chief diplomatic representative of the United States. In this capacity, the Secretary frequently engages in negotiations with foreign governments, represents the U.S. in international organizations, and works towards the resolution of conflicts and the advancement of American interests abroad.

Advising the President

As a key member of the President’s cabinet, the Secretary of State is a principal adviser on foreign affairs. This involves briefing the President on global events, providing expert opinions on foreign policy matters, and offering recommendations on the courses of action the U.S. should take in international situations.

Overseas Embassies and Consulates

The Secretary of State has administrative authority over U.S. embassies and consulates across the globe. This includes appointing ambassadors (subject to Senate approval), supervising the activities of diplomats and consular officers, and ensuring that American citizens abroad have access to necessary services.

Passport and Visa Services

The Department of State is responsible for issuing passports to American citizens and visas to foreigners seeking to enter the United States. The Secretary oversees these functions, ensuring the smooth processing and verification of these important travel documents.

Human Rights and Democracy Promotion

Promoting human rights and democracy around the world is a central goal of American foreign policy. The Secretary of State plays an active role in advocating for the protection of human rights, supporting democratic institutions, and taking measures against countries or entities that violate these principles.

Managing Foreign Aid

The Secretary of State is also involved in the allocation and management of foreign aid. This includes not only financial assistance but also the provision of technical expertise and resources to support development and humanitarian efforts in countries in need.

Public Diplomacy

Public diplomacy, aimed at communicating American values and policies directly to foreign populations, is another important function. Through cultural exchanges, educational programs, and media, the Secretary of State works to foster a positive image of the United States abroad.

Crisis Management

In times of international crises, such as natural disasters, conflicts, or outbreaks of diseases, the Secretary of State is often at the forefront of coordinating U.S. responses. This may involve the evacuation of American citizens, the provision of humanitarian assistance, or diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts.


The Secretary of State’s role is not only vast but also essential for the representation and advancement of American interests abroad. From diplomacy to crisis management, the Secretary is a central figure in shaping the United States’ engagement with the rest of the world. This position requires a deep understanding of international affairs, coupled with the ability to make critical decisions that can have global repercussions.

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