HCCD
HCCD-India News
Oct.
2013

Hon'ble Mr. Vivek Burman President HCCD- India, Hony. Consul General of Nicaragua

Greetings from HCCD-India!

It gives me great pride and immense pleasure to send you my best wishes on the inaugural event of your Chapter. I would have loved to be a part of this event in person but that was not possible due to the National Day celebrations of Nicaragua being organized by me in the capital. However we are all there with you in spirit and solidarity.

Consuls relations have been established between peoples since ancient times. The history of the consular function is largely associated with the development of international trade and the economic interest of States.

Tracing the history of consular functions, one comes across a classical term "Proxenos" which meant a citizen of a city state(usually rich), who felt friendship towards another city state and therefore he voluntarily took up some of roles which are fulfilled, in present times, by honorary consuls, Proxenos also used all his contacts and influence to support friendship or alliance with the town which he voluntary represented-like for example, Cimon, a Proxenos of Sparta in Athens who operated there even before the outbreak of the first Peloponnesian War (460 BC-circa 445 BC), nearly 2500 years ago. 

The origin of honorary consuls can be traced back to the 8th century, especially to china, India, and the Middle Eastern regions. In Europe, the origin of the consular institution takes us to ancient Greece where, in 12th Century, the first figure of the consul emerged and development to its present and more complex structure. The official Consular Corps was first established in France at the end of the 18th Century. Other states soon followed. The office of the honorary consul was originally sanctified by common law. The extraordinary increase of consulates during the 19th and 20th Centuries highlighted the need for a more precise legal framework, particularly concerning the consular service and the status of consuls. 

After years of consultations and preliminary work, the United Nations Conference on Consular Relations met in Vienna (Austria) and adopted on April 24, 1963 the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and two optional protocols. The Convention 'baptized' both categories of consuls, gave them a legal status, invested them with the UN authority and gave them global reach and recognition. Over ninety countries as well as several international organizations attended the Conference. It came into force on 19 March 1967. To date, the Vienna Convention has been ratified by over 130 countries. 

Thus we must be conscious of this privilege and honour bestowed upon us and always work towards maintaining and enhancing the image and role of this office. You have all our support and good wishes. We look forward to your active participation in all matters and suggestions and feedback. I am sure in times to come, our Bangalore chapter is sure to be the benchmark for excellence, enthusiasm and dedication.

 

Kind regards,

Mr. Vivek Burman
President HCCD-India

 

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2012

FICAC –Copenhagen to Monaco – 30 glorious years by
K S Bhalla , Honorary Consul General of Nauru in India, Director FICAC, Chairman FICAC South Asia Regional Committee, Vice-President Emeritus, Honorary Consular Corps Diplomatique-India

Excellencies, At the outset, please permit me to remove a mis-perception about the designation ‘Honorary Consul’. ‘Honorary’ has two meanings : an unpaid office and an office of honour. It is the second meaning which is more apt in the case of ‘Honorary Consul”. Honorary Consul is an appointment of honour.

FICAC , now also called World Federation of Consuls, was founded in Copenhagen on 2 October 1982 by a small group of visionaries led by Hon. Vagn Jespersen, Honorary Consul General of Monaco in Denmark. Countries present at the meeting and first signatories were Finland, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This body gave consuls of the world a much-needed forum to share experiences and co-ordinate efforts to enhance their status and effectiveness and to bring together Consular Associations and Corps from all around the globe.

The World Federation of Consuls has United Nations recognition as an NGO with ECOSOC Status. It is recognized as an NGO by the Organization of American States. It is also recognized as an NGO at the European Union. On 17th September 2010, the World Federation of Consuls signed a partnership agreement with the Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco, a Foundation created by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II to work in the fields of environment and climate change.

After the first meeting of founding fathers in Copenhagen in 1982 , the Federation held two more meetings in Copenhagen on 26th October 1984 and 9-10 October 1986 to draw up a working Constitution, called Copenhagen Statutes, and give shape to the world body.

Since then, General Assemblies have been held every three years. The First General Assembly , later also called World Congress of Consuls , was held in Vienna on 22-24 April 1988. It was attended by 132 Honorary Consuls from 21 countries. The 2nd conference was scheduled to be held in Athens in April 1991 but it was cancelled in autumn of 1990 due to the then impending Gulf War. The 3rd conference took place in Monaco on 16-18 November 1992. It was opened by His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco. The 4th World Congress was held in Cyprus ( Limassol) from 25-28 May 1995 . Consul General Vagn Jespersen, who had been President of FICAC for 13 years since its foundation in 1982, was elected Honorary President for lifetime.

Eilat ( Israel) was the venue of the 5th Congress from 11- 14 May 1998. An Agreement between FICAC and FUCHE (Federation of European Consular Associations) in the form of Memorandum of Understanding was ratified unanimously admitting all members of FUCHE into FICAC. But, unfortunately, the MOU did not work in practice. The 6th Congress was held in Curacao, Dutch Caribbean, from 15-17 May 2000. The next Congress was supposed to take place on 18-21 May 2003 in Seville (Spain) but due to some internal problems amongst members of the Spanish Consular Corps, it did not materialize. The 7th World Congress was then held in Athens (Greece) on 24-25 November 2003. Through two Resolutions passed at this Conference, FICAC appealed to all the States to issue distinctive number plates for the cars of Honorary Consuls and decided that honorific title of “Hon.” be used before the names of all Honorary Consuls.

In the 8th World Congress held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from 4-9 November 2006, the new President Arnold Foote made a pledge to change the centres of influence of the Federation to be more inclusive towards Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean. The 9th World Congress was held in Izmir (Turkey) from 14-18 November 2009. The 10th World Congress of Consuls is taking place in Monaco today, 12 November 2012. I congratulate Monaco Consular Corps for the signal honour of having been chosen to host the World Congress second time– the fist having been held here in 1992. FICAC has been led by distinguished persons since its inception:

Consul General Vagn Jespersen of Denmark - 1982 - 1995.
Consul General Andreas Mavrommatis of Cyprus –1995-2000
Consul General Peter Gad Naschitz of Israel –2000- 2003
Consul General Roland Dahlman of Sweden – 2003-2006
Consul General Arnold Foote of Jamaica – since 2006

FICAC has achieved international recognition, credibility and influence. Today it has over 87 member – associations and affiliated members on its rolls.

The year 2006 under President Arnold Foote’s leadership marked a watershed in the history of FICAC opening out new vistas and new horizons. New logo for FICAC , FICAC News, FICACWORLD website were created. FICAC International Trade Expos and FICAC International Cultural Galas were started to promote direct trade between the sending States and the receiving States and to inspire Consuls to turn into ‘Caring Consuls’. Trade fairs have been held in Jamaica, Bangkok and Manila in 2002 , 2007 and 2010. The fairs were supported by the respective governments and were highly successful.

The historic occasion of 25th Anniversary of FICAC, which fell on 2 October 2007, was celebrated by holding regional conferences in Thailand , Brazil, Finland, Turkey, Czech Republic, Africa, Monaco, Dubai , Dominic Republic, Philippines, India. These conferences were inaugurated and addressed by heads of governments and Foreign Ministers. At these conferences, Medals of Honour and Special Medals of Honour were awarded to Honorary Consuls who had rendered distinctive service to their consular corps and dignitaries who participated in FICAC conferences. FICAC Gold Star was created as a mark of highest Honour in recognition of the excellent work of world leaders and have been awarded to the following heads of States/Governments: Prime Minister of Jamaica, President of the Republic of Turkey, Prince Albert II of Monaco, President of Ghana, President of European Council, President of the Philippines and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

To promote charity as part of consular activities, a FICAC/UNICEF programme was formulated to raise funds for the benefit of underprivileged children afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Thailand consular corps was the first to raise such a fund in 2007 and give it to UNICEF, followed by Indian Consular Corps.

A meaningful slogan for FICAC’s outreach programme was coined: “Consuls turning caring into action”. Another equally meaningful slogan chosen for FICAC is: “FICAC ... WORKING HARD TO SERVE YOU BETTER ».

While FICAC got globally known and recognized, there was one thing found wanting. Individual Consuls of one State were not so well-known in other States. To fill up this void, in 2009 , for the first time in the history of FICAC, FICAC Who’s Who was produced and released at the triennial Congress in Izmir. Copies were distributed to all participating Consuls and Governments of all countries. The 2nd Edition of the Who’s Who has been prepared and is ready to be released during the current Monaco Congress .

Disparity between career consuls and honorary consuls had been a subject of discussion since Accra Conference in 2008. After a detailed discussion in Monaco regional conference 2009, a resolution and a Petition to United Nations for review of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, were adopted and sent to UN Secretary General and to Foreign Ministers of all countries . The matter is being pursued with the aforesaid authorities and with International Law Commission of the UN and President ECOSOC.

In 2009, at a conference in Dubai, President, Arnold Foote, presented "The Way Forward" programme which was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors. "The Way Forward" programme created new structures and designed guidelines for each structure. The FICAC world was divided into 14 regions with a separate regional committee in each region: East Asia , South Asia , South America , Central America, , North America, Caribbean, East Europe, ,South Europe, West Europe, North Europe, Middle East, , Western Africa , Northern Africa, , Southern Africa . In addition, the Administration set up 18 subject Committees to attend to subjects of political, social and cultural importance.

In Izmir World Congress 2009, an Izmir Declaration envisioning the future of FICAC was finalized. In tune with Codes of Conduct for Ambassadors introduced in many countries, "Guidelines for Honorary Consuls” were drawn by Board of Directors in its meeting in Milan (Italy) on 22 May 2010 and circulated.

A Horse Race in the name of FICAC was instituted in Istanbul (Turkey) in 2010. The second and third FICAC Horse Races have since been held at the Istanbul Hippodrome on 21 September 2011 and 2012.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received FICAC President The Honourable Arnold Foote OJ, Secretary General and seven other Directors of FICAC on 11 May 2011 at the Vatican. A framed FICAC Gold Star and citation were presented to His Holiness on behalf of all the members of FICAC. The President, Secretary General and Directors also had the honour of an audience with His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop of Constantinople, on 23 September 2011 in Istanbul

In September 2011, the Founder and First President of FICAC, Honourable Vagn Jespersen passed away at the age of 93. He had been the President of FICAC for the longest period from 1982-1995. The President, Arnold Foote, represented FICAC at the funeral of the Hon. Vagn Jespersen on the 23rd of September in Copenhagen.

While FICAC had spread in all continents, it had not made much of a mark in the USA On 18 January 2012, President Arnold Foote accompanied by senior Directors of FICAC met Congressman Dan Burton, Chairman of the US House of Representatives and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Congress, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke , Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and Congressman Alcee Hastings in Washington DC and apprised them of the aims and objects of FICAC, its role towards the consular associations worldwide and its relations with international organizations.

Congressman Dan Burton was gracious enough to attend the European Regional Conference in Brussels on 23 February 2012 and deliver a speech. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke agreed to address the forthcoming FICAC Caribbean regional meeting in Jamaica. Year 2012 is the year of 30th Anniversary of FICAC. To mark the historic occasion, Consular Corps Punjab ( Pakistan) and Honorary Consuls Association of Thailand hosted dinners on 21 June 2012 and 11 September 2012. Thailand association gave donations to the Education for Development Foundation (EDF) to help educational costs for 15 children over three years and to UNICEF for educational purposes. Monaco Conference has dedicated the evening of 12 November 2012 for the 30th Anniversary Awards Dinner during which Medals of Honour would be given away to Consuls who have made excellent contribution to consular movement.

Excellencies, Heads of Governments and Foreign Ministers hold Honorary Consuls in high esteem and have appreciated their role and work in no uncertain terms: Sri Lanka: Addressing honorary consuls of Sri Lanka on 19 January 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said: “Your role as Honorary Consuls is as important as Ambassadors representing our country. Indeed, I consider all of you as de facto Ambassadors ”. Malaysia: Addressing Honorary Consuls of Malaysia on 28 March 2007, Dato' Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: Your contribution is more profound because you do this job without any compensation from the Government of Malaysia. Turkey: On 13 November 2008, while receiving the FICAC Gold Star on behalf of President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, Governor Cahit Kiraç said : “ The service that honorary consuls and consulates give to the countries that they represent is indispensable”. Malta: Speaking to honorary consuls on 23 November 2006, Prime Minister of Malta , Lawrence Gonzi , said: “.we are not only aware of but also profoundly grateful for your commitment to this role. We also acknowledge that your dedication is driven by a personal sense of service and not by the pursuit of profit.”

Netherlands: Admiring his honorary consuls , Prime Minister of Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende said on 29 May 2006: You are committed to serving the interests of the Netherlands, and its people. You are with us in good times and bad. You give us your time, your energy, your friendship, and your devotion. No price can be put on that.

Belgium: Speaking at the Conference of the Belgian network in the United States, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht of Belgium said : “Honorary consuls are our ambassadors in the city or state where you live. You represent a piece of Belgium over there.” Czech Republic: Speaking to Honorary Consuls and Ambassadors of the Czech Republic on 2 June 2008, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said: “….a good honorary consul is a dream of every Prime Minister, every Minister of Finance and every Minister of Foreign Affairs. He carries out his mission as a career diplomat, but free of charge without the right for immunity.” FICAC has succeeded in establishing professional bonding among Consuls of the world. Interpersonal relationship and consular brotherhood have deepened. Get-togethers are frequent. Wide-ranging discussions on topics of mutual interest are common. Thanks to FICAC Who’s Who , Honorary Consuls are now known all over and their biographies have a place of honour in the libraries of Foreign Offices. Honorary Consuls are now Honourable Consuls and in many countries they enjoy the privilege of displaying distinctive number plates on their cars. FICAC has arrived and is set on the path to mark its presence in every country of the world.

Thank you.

K S Bhalla - Plaque of Honour - Monaco

Jul.
2012

The National Day of the Union of the Comoros was celebrated in New Delhi, India on 27th July, 2012. The function was attended by High Commissioners, Ambassadors, Hony. Consul General/Consuls and Who’s Who of Delhi. Excellency Mr. Ravi Bangar, Joint Secretary, Head of the South and East Africa Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India was the Chief Guest. A brochure on Tourism and Industry in Comoros was released on the said date.

Apr.
2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. It is an honor to have this opportunity to share my experience as a Senior Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the United States House of Representatives with this distinguished gathering of consuls—the men and women who stand on the frontlines of international relations. In my thirty years in the United States Congress, I have been privileged to see the affects of the work that you do firsthand.....

Mar.
2012

Philippines: Consular Corps Dean's Monthly Letter for March 28 2012...

Feb.
2011

The 1st FICAC South Asian Regional Consular Conference being held in New Delhi from 15-16 February 2011 also discussed the economic meltdown; and the role of Micro Finance in Economic Development in South Asia. The Regional Conference is being organized by Honorary Consular Corps Diplomatique-India (HCCD) on behalf of the Federation Internationale des Corps et Associations Consulaires (FICAC), the premier organization of Consuls in the world.....