1. The establishment of consular relations between two countries is by mutual consent and generally parallel to the establishment of diplomatic relations. In contrast, the rupture of diplomatic relations does not necessarily determine the breaking of consular relations. In this context as diplomatic agents have a representative character of the state, the consuls develop essentially administrative functions.
2. Unlike other diplomats, the consuls (who function within the consular divisions of embassies) have limited diplomatic functions, and they do not interact on a regular basis with official of the receiving State.
3. Because of this difference, there are also different methods of appointment of each other’s representatives. These are usually reflected in the nature of the appointment documents issued, particularly in the case of heads of diplomatic missions and consular posts, respectively, i.e., the Letters of Credence and Letters Patents. These will denote the different content and purpose, resulting in the different ways in which the receiving State may terminate the exercise of the functions of diplomatic agents and consular officers.
4. Since 1963, as stipulated in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, apart from the usual commercial activities and protection, the consul’s formally recognised functions include the extension of his State’s national passports, granting visas and sending (where applicable) appropriate documents to persons wishing to travel to his State.
5. Also he may act as a notary public or a civil registration officer or an officer with similar functions, and perform certain administrative activities, if not contrary to the laws and regulations of the receiving State.
6. In addition, he can inform his compatriots residing in the consulate’s jurisdiction, in writing, on the right of protection granted to them and their obligations. This responsibility is related to the obligation of compiling and keeping a register of the nations of his State residing in consulate’s jurisdiction.
7. Because of the complexity and importance of contemporary trade issues, commercial consular work tends to overlap with those handled by the embassy. To avoid duplication of efforts, some embassies designate their trade attachés or high level trade consuls to handle these specific matters.
8. With regard to national consular service, there have been important technical, technological and control advances in recent times and these have resulted in consular services becoming more effective. Consulates generally generate significant revenues and, consequently, some heads of consulates (of some countries) receive higher monthly salaries that are allocated to ambassadors.
9. It is also fair to recognise the fundamental importance of consulates located in cities far from the capital (seat of the diplomatic mission), and which may be homes to major national communities and through whose ports there is significant trade with their home States.
© by Odeen Ishmael