Consular Diplomacy: A Conceptual Framework for Analysis and Decision-making

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Uvais, Ibrahim
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University of Malta; DiploFoundation
This dissertation explores the consular functions performed in three developed countries and draws from that data to develop a conceptual framework for decision making and analysis of consular affairs. The paper examines the historical evolution of consular functions and the problems of defining consular functions on a universal basis. The findings of this research initially define the categories of consular services performed in contemporary diplomacy, and subsequently, conceptualises how each function may become relatively more important to a nation state. Among the important finding of this research are the distinct differences in the nature of consular functions related to „protection‟, „documentary‟, and „border control‟ services. This paper argues that the scope of consular work is in fact broader than „protection‟ of nationals abroad. Moreover, the paper highlights the inherent theoretical conflicts between representing individual interests and national interest while performing these multifarious functions, and moreover, how this conflict may not only lead to rifts between consuls and diplomats, but also how consular immunity may be the target of promoting strategic interests in times of conflict. In conclusion, the dissertation argues that the importance given by any state to enhance and broaden the consular institution is indicative of the value it places on its own nationals, thereby signalling the value it places on its national identity. The consular function thus becomes a window through which a state projects its „nationhood‟in competition with rival identities and interests in the nation-state system.