Speakers' Notes

"Fletcher Points: VCCR Impact"
by Paul Hare (Boston University)

The VCCR did not anticipate certain activities that have become central to the functions of Consulates (e.g. diplomatic missions in non-capital cities). Since 1963, the roles of sovereign states have developed in directions such as trade and investment promotion and in public diplomacy. This is partly due to pressure from more demanding publics and the possibilities offered by modern technologies. The world has become far more interconnected in how consular posts engage with a wide range of official and non-state actors. Many consular posts now compete directly with other countries in fulfilling such functions.

The VCCR, of course, did give a central role to consular officials in protecting nationals and that such activities required the cooperation of the receiving state. But it did not envisage a proactive 24/7 role for consular officials in engaging in a preventative role and anticipating the circumstances in which nationals would need to be protected. So now consular services of developed countries need to prepare in advance for potential  threats to their nationals from political disturbance, natural disasters, etc. The updating of travel advice in itself is a major responsibility which absorbs significant resources because of digital access to information and other factors. Again, these developments are related to increased travel, international education and business and interchange.

TALKING POINTS 

1. DEMANDING PUBLICS

Consular Duties framed in terms of Protecting publics

Can any one else do it?

States becoming weaker in capacity to respond

Demanding Publics - Travel, education, back packers, ease of money transfers, insurance, access on cell phones.

2. DEMANDING TECHNOLOGIES

The technologies available may help in consular duties but they also impose greater demands on resources .

Use of Technology means publics are always in touch.

There is no hiding for consular staff. The publics will always find you.

How do Technologies help?

3. DISASTERS

More of them. More pressure to respond. Unusual climates. More unexpected events and crisis planning as a permanent activity.

4. BLAME

Global media. The consular story that goes wrong . Nowhere is seen as too remote for the outreach of consular services

5. REGISTRATION

You are never alone. Wherever your nationals are they should be contactable. Now everyone is accessible and duties to protect have clear targets.

6. CITIZENS INTERMINGLING

States weaker but citizens intermingling more with other nations.

7. WEAK STATES

VCCR assumes all states will be capable of protecting national and will wish to do so. This is clearly not the case.

8. NEW FUNCTIONS OF CONSULAR ACTIVITIES
  • TRADE AND INVESTMENT PROMOTION. Industrial Espionage.
    Promoting Trade and Investment. China links. Neil Hayward.
    Paying for investment. Sovereign Wealth Fund
  • PUBLIC DIPLOMACY. Dangers. Diplomats and consular officials engaged with publics working in Syria. Cuba
    What is identified as a state?
    Public diplomacy and consular services. Competition to impress your own and other publics, e.g. which country offer best evacuation.
    Embassies and consulates raising their profiles.
9. REFUGEES

Migration. Who is responsible? The international duty. But the world struggles to find coordinated and well-funded responses to protect ‘stateless’ or unprotected citizens. So the VVCR’s scope is severely limited as many states have no capacity to fulfill these functions.

The weakness of some sovereign states puts additional burdens in how those which accept their responsibilities seriously. How can you prevent you free-traveling nationals gong to dangerous and lawless points of the globe?