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Guidelines how to Become an Honorary Consul


An Honorary Consul has the same responsibilities as a full Consul, but the post is usually a part-time, unpaid and therefore slightly less formal position. Most Third World Countries lack the funds needed to pay for a fulltime Consul to be present in every major city in the world, so Honorary Consuls are often appointed instead. These are citizens (or residents) of the host country who are granted a limited diplomatic immunity in return for their services. As an Honorary Consul, the part-time diplomat can expect to receive invitations to functions which can offer a variety of business and trading contacts. For a small investment of time, this position can be very profitable for both sides.


INTRODUCTION

The aim of this page is to provide a guide to the opportunities inherent for an individual to become a "part time" diplomat. Any city without a Consulate might be in need of an Honorary Consul, and all a prospective diplomat would need in this case would be an office and an ability to speak an appropriate language in order to be able to communicate with the nationals of the country in question. Frequently, an entrepreneur can be of more use to a foreign nation than a career diplomat, and a bright business-person can exchange his or her expertise for a sizeable influx of business interest. The secret of establishing satisfying business contacts is to examine thoroughly the possibilities originated by one's unique qualifications and capabilities. It is a mistake to imagine that only such people as CEO's of multi-national corporations are welcomed by-other nations. A Western businessman can offer a great deal in terms of contacts, which can further aid a less industrialised nation, as well as physical resources. In return, the selected nation can provide a significant number of trading links for the imaginative entrepreneur, whether he or she is a small part of a large corporation or a self-employed individual.

When applying for a Diplomatic Position, firstly use your intelligence and instinct when matching your skills to a prospective country, a possible destination, and secondly learn to sell yourself. Make sure that your application leaves the recipient in absolutely no doubt that your idea is the most promising plan that he or she is likely to encounter. Always believe in yourself and your unique talents. Becoming an honorary diplomat is a lot easier to achieve than people generally realise. If you can persevere with your letter-writing skills and be prepared to wait patiently for a response, this can be an interesting way to utilize your (spare)time.

Be patient, be thorough, be persistent and, with luck, you will become a member of the diplomatic community.


Application to Third World Countries

Most of these countries are desperately needy and have, at best, limited Infrastructures. Because of these factors the opportunities for investment are limitless, since a wide variety of specialisation and expertise can be accommodated. Coupled with the varied options open to the imaginative entrepreneur, however, is the indisputable fact of the pervasive poverty of the Third World. An aspiring diplomat might have to invest a considerable amount of money before seeing any return on that investment. Before contemplating the establishment of contact with a Third World country it is essential that a substantial amount of research should be done. It won't be difficult to find a nation which can benefit from your help, but locating one which is politically stable might be more complicated. A military coup might prove to be financially ruinous, as well as dangerous!

It will pay you to study the belief system of the country carefully before approaching any representative. To put it politely, many Third World leaders display, at best, a sketchy understanding of what is implied by a nation state and feel more strongly bound by familial considerations. In such a case it would be advantageous to stress the profits that would accrue to the leader's family or tribal group. Above all, offer something which is urgently sought and will be of immediate benefit. When dealing with non-industrial nations it is inadvisable to stress profits which will not materialise quickly. Finally, remember that bribery and corruption are culturally specific terms. What is viewed as distinctly dodgy in a developed western nation might be common practice in an under-developed country!


COMPOSING YOUR APPLICATION

There are five important points to remember when considering an application

    1. Find a gap and be prepared to fill it.
    2. Match your talents to a country that will appreciate you.
    3. Be prepared to work for no fee. Don't worry, your investment will be rewarded at a later stage.
    4. Ensure that you can offer your selected nation a tangible, immediate benefit.
    5. Choose a nation with which you can maximise your linguistic skills and political connections, if you have any. Remember, it is not necessary to have lived in or even visited the country that you wish to represent.


    Introductory Letter

    This document should contain a succinct outline of your plan of action. For the sake of clarity you should restrain yourself from mentioning anything except the most pertinent points of your proposal. Concentrate primarily on the immediate benefits to be obtained from your idea. Remember that the person reading your letter will almost certainly consider brevity to be a virtue!


    The Proposal

    Firstly, mention the qualifications and experience which you have gained, and how these will integrate to ensure the success of your proposal. Emphasise the unique nature of your qualifications and experience. The reader of your proposal should be convinced that you are the only person in the world who can achieve the successful completion of this project.


    The C.V.

    This should accompany your proposal and must be short and to the point. Only include your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and (if possible) a fax number where you can be contacted. Only include facts which are directly relevant to the proposal which you submit. For instance, if you are offering to help a starving African country with the production of food, it is unlikely that the person reading your C.V will be emotionally captivated by the information that you were the captain of the rugby team at an University! The C. V. should note relevant qualifications and work experience, as well as any articles that you have had published and awards which you have received. As with the introductory letter, keep it straight and simple.


Diplomatic Status

This can vary considerably, depending on the nation to which you are applying, as well as your own qualifications and abilities. At the very best you will be granted a diplomatic passport, which will grant you full diplomatic status. This will include legal immunity, and is also useful for proving your status when negotiating with other businessmen.

An Honorary Consulship will provide a more limited degree of immunity, which will protect the individual while carrying out consular duties. If a diplomatic passport is not granted it will usually be possible to at least obtain an ordinary passport of the country you represent.

It is possible to be granted official status by means of a commission. This is a document, which should be signed by the head of the ministry for which you are working, stating that you are operating on behalf of the country in a certain matter. This will not be sufficient to provide diplomatic immunity, but it should open doors which might otherwise be slammed in your face.

Similarly, a "lettre de chancellerie ",which is issued by the Embassy, will grease your path without bestowing actual diplomatic immunity. The part-time diplomat will be unlikely to receive a regular salary, although he or she might be entitled to limited pay and expenses. However, it is wise to be prepared to offer your services at no cost to the country in question. With sufficient research you can be sure that this investment of your time and expertise will eventually be profitable.


Diplomatic Immunity

Although complete immunity is Bestowed on the head and main agents of the diplomatic party, more lowly representatives only receive immunity during the execution of their duties. However, many governments prefer to extend total immunity to all members of staff, to avoid the embarrassment of arresting a senior diplomat. Certainly, the levels of immunity can be very confusing, and can be withdrawn if not respected.

Firstly, your diplomatic status must be accredited by the host country's Foreign Ministry. If this formality is neglected the host country will not grant you immunity and you will be prosecuted for any offence which you might commit.

Your diplomatic immunity will also extend to permission to use the diplomatic bag. This can be very useful for importing samples and goods into the country while avoiding taxation.


THE DIPLOMATIC LADDER

    The Ambassador

    The Ambassador is either a career diplomat or a political ambassador, so it is unlikely that any individual who wishes merely to extend business contacts would be able to become an Ambassador. Briefly, these people act as the official representatives of their government and are, therefore, primarily responsible for governmental contracts.


    The Consul

    The responsibilities of the consul will be of more interest to the entrepreneur. The Consul is expected to be involved in personal and commercial communications, which naturally give rise to personal business opportunities. There is an increasing tendency for countries to appoint Consuls who are not members of the Foreign Service. Other diplomats tend to despise the Consul, who, by his nature, seems more interested in establishing trading links than being concerned with bureaucratic matters. As a Consul you would be responsible for the following areas of operation:

    1. As an agent of a government, you might be required to issue official documents, such as visas (for which you can often charge a small fee). This will only apply if a limited number of nationals live in your area, otherwise such matters will be dealt with by other officials.
    2. The Consul is responsible for arranging legal aid to any jailed national. He is also supposed to remain in frequent contact with the individual during the period of imprisonment I should add that most nations, including the major nations, tend to shirk this responsibility to a greater or lesser extent.
    3. If a national falls ill and contacts you, the Consul should be able to recommend a medical professional. In the case of death, the Consul would be expected to arrange for a death certificate to be provided, as well as for the transportation of the body.
    4. If a national needs financial assistance, the Consul should arrange for this to be provided. Most countries organise a fund specifically for this purpose, so the Consul representing a Third World Country is unlikely to be held personally responsible for providing such monetary aid.
    5. More generally, the Consul will be expected to support the country which he represents in a variety of ways, by encouraging travel to the country, promoting trade between the nation he represents and his home country, and acting as a public relations officer. This might involve promotion of the country, and damage limitation if relations between the two countries disintegrate, but usually involves accepting invitations to attend a great number of extravagant cocktail parties.


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