It is my distinct honour and pleasure to welcome you this morning to the 11th General Assembly of the World Federation of Consuls in beautiful Istanbul.
I am particularly grateful to Hon. Aykut Eken, our Secretary General, the President of the Honorary Consuls Association of Turkey, Hon. Omer Kaplan and members of the Honorary Consuls Association of Turkey who have all worked assiduously to ensure that the 11th World Congress of Consuls would be a resounding success.
I would now like to place on record my deep appreciation and thanks to all the Directors who worked as a team in a very positive manner bringing successful results. I speak of;
- Costas Lefkaritis – Vice President
- Aykut Eken – Secretary General and Treasurer
- K. L. Ganju
- Nikos Margaropoulos
- Amarkai Amarteifio
- Vince Carlos
- Leif-Kristian Sverstad
- Francois Piers
- Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig
- Sylvain Cohen
- Thomas A. Neves
- Moustapha El-Solh
I will start my report this morning by giving you a brief summary of what I inherited when I took over in 2006 as the President of the World Federation of Consuls in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
In Montego Bay, I examined the fruitage of the then President, Roland Dahlman, whose term ended at the World Congress in 2006.
He was absent from the proceedings and, unfortunately, did not inform us that he would not be coming to Jamaica. He was kept constantly informed and all reasonable courtesies were extended to him.
FICAC was embarrassed by his absence from the opening ceremony especially as the Governor General of Jamaica honoured us with his presence. He was also absent from ceremonies with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, the Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of American States, the Ambassador representing the European Union, the Ambassador representing the United Nations and several Ambassadors representing countries from all over the world.
The loyalties of the Executive Committee were fractured. The Secretariat had no records whatsoever. The administration did not show proof of any tangible results. The Federation was in shambles.
There was talk before the elections that if there was no continuation of the status quo, some countries would pull out of FICAC. There was an organized campaign against me, which was healthy. But they made a mistake by illegally nominating Marco Antonio Cachel to be a candidate, based on his illegal nomination form which was signed by Cachel himself and submitted at the last minute. He was also given 2 illegal votes.
All their efforts however, could not garnish them enough support to nominate a candidate to run against me and I was elected unopposed. Mr. Cachel, however, was elected illegally to the Board of Directors.
They said I would not last 3 months as President and it was obvious that Mr. Cachel was under instructions to disrupt my first Directors meeting which was being held in Brussels, Belgium. His behavior was atrocious and it was non-stop. We had no alternative but to suspend Mr. Cachel as a Director pending further investigations. He then took FICAC to the courts in Brussels.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brazil advised us in writing on 1st August, 2007 that Marco Antonio Cachel was no longer the Consul General for the Philippines in Itajai, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Mr. Cachel should not have been allowed to participate in the General Assembly of the World Congress of Consuls 2006.
Another letter from the Ministry that came on September 19th 2007 stated:
Dear Mr. Foote,
The Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil has the honour to inform the World Federation of Consuls that the Government of Brazil by note to the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Brasilia dated 30th August, 2007 informed that it would not be possible to accept the request of renewal of the credentials of Mr. Marco Antonio Cachel as Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Itajai, S.C.
The Embassy of Brazil avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the World Federation of Consuls the assurances of its highest consideration.
Cezar Augusto de Souza Lima Amaral – Ambassador
I was amazed to find, when viewing the court documents, that the same Consuls who worked with Cachel at the World Congress had sent false information to the courts in order to support Cachel’s case against FICAC.
These letters were written on the letterhead of the Consular Corps of the country in which they have the honour to serve. Their names and their actions are on public record in the courts of Brussels, Belgium and are now in our files also.
Cachel lost the case he brought against FICAC. It is alleged that Cachel’s legal fees were paid for by certain Consuls in Europe. No payment was ever made to FICAC.
I record this in my last report as I think it important at this time to remind the membership, in order that this incident should never ever be allowed to happen again in the future.
It is important to note that FICAC is currently a legal entity and registered in Brussels, Belgium as an AISBL. After we won the Cachel case, our lawyers informed us that it is easy for any group which conspires against FICAC to summon FICAC aisbl to court. After lengthy discussions with them, they suggested that we dissolve the FICAC aisbl and transfer the net assets to a defacto association registered in Brussels with a similar purpose. This would prevent anything like this ever happening to FICAC again. However a Director could be held liable if he makes a mistake during his service to our Federation.
It is noteworthy to mention that, as a defacto association, the Secretariat may be moved from country to country depending on the election process.
In 2006, when I was elected President for the first time, I made a pledge to change the centres of influence of our Federation from Europe to be more inclusive towards Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean.
I am pleased to say that I have kept that promise and today our Federation has organizations in every region of the world.
The General Assembly of the 9th World Congress gave us a powerful mandate. In order to fulfill the mandate given, I reviewed all operations and structure and proposed changes and adjustments which I believe were necessary to improve and maintain an efficient and effective organization in this ever changing global environment. As a result, The Way Forward programme was created.
The Way Forward programme was prepared by me and presented to the Board of Directors at a meeting held in Dubai on 4th February, 2010. The Board of Directors approved The Way Forward programme unanimously.
I shall go through The Way Forward programme briefly starting with the Permanent Secretariat.
The Permanent Secretariat is located at the offices of the Secretary General in Brussels, Belgium, and has overall responsibility for the secretarial work of our Federation. The Secretary General will work in consultation with the President and the Vice President.
The functions of the Secretariat are:
- Organizing the work of the Secretariat
- Preparing the draft work programmes for consideration by the Directors
- Supervising the implementation of work programmes and their coordination
- Conducting the everyday activities of FICAC
- Preparing an annual statement of membership of the Federation for circulation to all Member Associations.
- In addition the Secretariat is responsible for maintaining the files, archives, accounts and other records of FICAC and safeguarding those records.
The office of the Treasurer is an honorary position selected by the President and the Board triennially. Any support staff is the responsibility of the Treasurer. All functions that have to be carried out by the Treasurer are in consultation with the President, Vice President and the Secretary General. These functions are:
- Submitting a triennial budgetary proposal, reviewed by the Board, and approved by the General Assembly
- Submitting the annual budget for approval of the Board
- Keeping, preparing and presenting statements of account
- Keeping the Board informed of the financial status of FICAC
- Collecting member’s fees and taking all measures in connection therewith
- Safeguarding the assets of the Federation and discharging its liabilities
- Depositing funds of the Federation in a bank
- Performing such other functions that the Board or the President may assign him.
- In addition, the Treasurer will prepare annual financial statements for audit on a timely basis for presentation to the Board of Directors.
I now move to the FICAC regions and the Central Committees. I increased the number of regions to widen our coverage and service and to enhance our membership. The regions are based on the United Nations categorization. The FICAC regions are:
- East Asia
- South Asia
- Middle East
- Eastern Africa
- Western Africa
- Northern Africa
- Southern Africa
- Eastern Europe
- Northern Europe
- Western Europe
- Southern Europe
- South America
- North America
Each committee of the Federation has been defined as to its purpose and how it is expected to operate at the FICAC level. Most of these committees are replicated at the regional level. Committees have been set up to deal with specific issues of FICAC. Each committee is chaired either by a Board member or a Regional Chairman, and populated by choice of the Chair to include Deans and members who have specific interest in the topic.
The intention is for each region to have a similar organizational structure to the Federation, that is a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Board comprising of Deans of the region and appropriate committees. Each region is managed by a Regional Chairman who attends Board meetings and reports on the progress of his or her region. It is expected that each region supports a regional secretariat located at the offices of the Regional Chairman, and that the Regional Chairman reports to the Secretary General on a monthly basis as prescribed by him.
The functions of the Regional Committees are similar to those of the Federation overall and they are as follows:
- To project the work of the World Federation by communicating on a regular basis with member countries
- Develop membership within the region – make special visits to countries which are not members.
- Develop FICAC programmes within the region
- Visit member countries and encourage the work of the member corps, advising on projects and liaising with the Chairmen of FICAC Committees
- Project each member positively in the Receiving State by interacting with media, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and through the FICAC programmes etc.
- Promote annual trade expos in each country of the region
- Organize FICAC/UNICEF Fundraising Banquets in each country of the region
- Encourage educational programmes and work with FICAC committees for recommending the appropriate programmes
- Create a better understanding of FICAC services
- Invite FICAC Directors to the region
The Federation’s business is conducted through several committees, each operating with clearly defined portfolios and terms of reference.
These committees include:
- Trade Development – The purpose of this committee is to promote cross border business, trade development and networking amongst members. The operation is to organize International Trade Expos and Trade Missions among members. The first success story of this programme came from H. E. Cezar Amaral representing the Minister of External Affairs of Brazil in his praise of the FICAC International Trade Expo when he stated at the FICAC conference in Recife in Brazil, and I quote; “The Brazilian exports to Jamaica rose from $47 million in 2003 to US$245 million in 2007 because of Brazil’s participation in the FICAC International Trade Expo”.
- Legal – Its purpose is to protect FICAC against lawsuits, develop policies and procedures for dealing with legal issues, revue constitution and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 from legal perspective. Its operation is to review all legal documents involved in the operation, advise or represent members in legal matters and implement changes to the constitution.
- Membership – Its purpose is to develop the membership base. Its operation is to activate recruitment methodology including visits to member countries, consultations and presentations.
- Education – Its purpose is to advise members on available educational programmes which satisfy their needs to increase the effectiveness of Consular duties and enhance the knowledge in specific areas. Its operation is to visit members and provide lecturers through Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Strategiques in Paris.
- Consular Privileges Protection – Its purpose is to work with members to ensure the enactment of privileges in line with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963. Its operation is to investigate and respond to notifications received from members of any disparities.
- International Relations – Its purpose is to manage relationships between Governments, private sector associations, members and international agencies; ensure the highest class of membership for FICAC in international organizations. Its operation is to develop working partnerships within member countries and between international agencies; EU, OAS, UN, WTO, World Bank/IFC, develop relationships with Diplomatic Corps to assist with FICAC projects in each region.
- Public Relations – Its purpose is to create international media awareness of FICAC by managing relationships with media, Governments and private sector. Its operation is to maintain a working group in each region responsible for press releases relating to FICAC activities.
- Vienna Convention Review – Review Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963. Contact and follow up with Ministers of Foreign Affairs in member countries and the UN Legal Commission.
- Fundraising – To raise funds required to operate the organization. Its operation is to develop and implement fundraising programmes.
- Advisory – Its purpose is to provide a source of constitutional knowledge and experience of members. Its operation is to advise the President and Board members on request.
- Consular Security – New security risks and challenges now exist. This committee was formed to deal with the Sending and Receiving States re additional security for our members so that they can provide the services required by the Sending and Receiving States.
- FICAC/UNICEF which is our outreach programme where we raise funds for underprivileged children with HIV/AIDS. Our slogan for this programme is “Consuls turning caring into action”.
- Cultural Exchange. This Committee’s function is to bring the cultural programmes of Sending States to the Receiving States. These performances are free of cost to the people of the Receiving State.
- Environment and Climate Change. These issues are of global concern as climate change, loss of biodiversity and ozone layer depletion cannot be addressed by countries acting alone. Climate Change is potentially the biggest risk factor facing humanity, and it is played out in the political, social and economic spheres vital to the security and viability of countries. The cost associated with loss of life, destruction of property and depletion of national wealth arising from intensified weather events are large and increasing. All countries are at risk from climate change, and the recovery costs are so large that their prospects of development may be set back for generations. We must have all hands on deck to deal with this global crisis. The World Federation of Consuls has signed a partnership agreement with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation for environment and climate change, and will work together with them in promoting international awareness of these important matters.
Our Board of Directors meets quarterly to evaluate action by the committees and take decisions on their recommendations.
Our Federation enjoys United Nations recognition as an NGO with ECOSOC status. We have similar recognition at the European Union and we are also recognized by the Organization of American States.
Today, our Federation has over 90 country members, Associations and affiliated members with several thousand individual Consul members. Our membership is a network of highly experienced, well-connected individuals, whose determined focus, combined expertise and resources can be used to impact the world for good.
The practice of mutual respect and adherence to the principles recognized in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 will continue to guide the promotion of consular cooperation in each member country.
FICAC WHO’S WHO
The first publication of the FICAC Who’s Who was presented at the World Congress of Consuls held in Izmir, Turkey in 2009. The second publication of the FICAC Who’s Who was presented at the World Congress of Consuls 2012 in Monaco.
I know how hard Hon. Kartar Bhalla worked to collect material from Consuls, editing their CV’s and bringing out an impressive Who’s Who. Unfortunately, this year in the middle of the production of the Who’s Who, Hon. Kartar became ill. Thank goodness he is recovering nicely and should be well soon.
The Who’s Who publication will not be presented until next year. The new administration of FICAC will put priority 1 on this programme for it to be produced in the early part of 2016.
I will now deal with Regional Conferences and Directors meetings for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The first and second meetings of the Board of Directors of the World Federation of Consuls were held in Monaco after WCC 2012 and Kingston, Jamaica from 23rd – 26th January 2013. These meetings prepared the members for the work that will be involved in the activities of this administration between 2013 and 2015.
NEW YORK April 16th, 2013
After our Directors meeting in Jamaica, I had a meeting with the Chairman of the FICAC Latin America region, Hon. Thomas Neves, and during that meeting while discussing sections of the Vienna Convention, he brought to my attention the fact that the Convention, which governs our operation, will be 50 years old on 24th April, 2013.
I was very pleased with this information and decided at that time for us to develop a programme that would involve our Federation in congratulating the United Nations on the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963.
I spent one week visiting the United Nations building every day meeting with various Heads of Departments etc., only to find that the way the UN is structured, for them to agree to our proposal which included presentation of the FICAC Gold Star to H. E. Ban ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, we had to get approval of every member country of the United Nations before we could proceed.
After making our presentation at the United Nations, I was asked by Mr. Ramu Damodoran, Deputy Director, Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information, to contribute an article to the UN Chronicle on New Security Risks and Challenges for Consuls, which I accepted as I thought it was an honour for the United Nations to ask us to contribute an article to be published in the most prestigious diplomatic publication in the world.
I found out after that the United Nations must ask you to contribute an article as they do not accept anything sent into them.
The letter was written by Mr. Federigo Magherini, Editor of the UN Chronicle and reads as follows;
Dear Honourable Arnold Foote OJ,
The UN Chronicle, a quarterly magazine published by the Department of Public Information, covers information and debate on the activities of the United Nations system. It features interviews, essays and opinions from official, non-governmental, academic and policymaking groups connected with the Organization. The magazine is produced in English and French, at quarterly intervals, and selections from its content in the other official languages of the United Nations are made available online at www.un.org/chronicle.
The UN Chronicle looks at the changing meaning of security in an interconnected world. With that context, and keeping in mind the 11 September, 2012 attack against a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, we would be honoured to have a contribution from you on “New security risks and challenges for Consuls”. A maximum length of 1,800 words is suggested, as is a deadline of 26 April, 2013 to allow for timely publication.
I personally thank you for having already and graciously accepted my invitation to contribute an article to the UN Chronicle during our meeting at UN Headquarters. I would be grateful if the article could be e-mailed to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we do not presume to offer our distinguished contributors payment for articles, we trust the extent and levels of readership that we assure will be recompense. You will, of course, retain the right to reprint the contribution elsewhere, with a reference to it having first appeared in the UN Chronicle, although it copyright will be held by the United Nations.
Should you have additional questions, please write to Federigo Magherini at email@example.com or call 212.963.5547.
Thank you for your consideration.
Editor, UN Chronicle
My article was published in the UN Chronicle on 18th July, 2013. Copies of my article are available at our Secretariat and on our website.
This is the first time that the World Federation of Consuls has been given such recognition by the United Nations.
March 6, 2013, I made a special visit to the United Nations to meet with Mr. Ponos, Chef de Cabinet of Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly and representative of Serbia at the UN. This meeting was arranged by Hon. Rajko Maric, Dean of the Consular Corps of Serbia. Mr. Ponos thanked me for making a special trip to meet with him and offered his full support to the World Federation of Consuls.
During the week that I worked at the United Nations, I also met with Ambassador Halit Cevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, Mr. Ramu Damordoran, Deputy Director, Outreach Division, Dept. of Public Information, Mr. Federigo Magherini, Chief, Un Chronicle Unit, Mr. Patrick Carey, Director of Office, Office of the Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary General and Ms. Kaori Minami, First Officer, Executive Office of the Secretary General.
At these meetings, I presented a booklet on our proposal for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963. This was prepared, produced and printed for our Federation free of cost by my company. The booklet was distributed in all relevant departments of the United Nations including all those delegates that were present at meetings with me.
The proposed 50th anniversary celebration was discussed in detail at all meetings at the UN, but no decision was made up to the time of the Board of Directors meeting in New York.
FICAC Directors meeting New York, April 16th, 2013
At our Directors meeting, we discussed in detail our proposed programme to honour the United Nations on the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963.
It was a very important occasion for us as the following day we were to meet with the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Mr. Vuk Jeremic, who is from Serbia. I would like to place on record our thanks to Mr. Rajko Maric for arranging this meeting.
There were 2 points that we raised with him;
- FICAC would like to participate fully at all ECOSOC meetings. This he agreed to arrange.
- Our Federation is ready to apply for membership as an Inter Governmental Organization (IGO)
At this meeting, Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly of the UN, was honoured by FICAC. He received the FICAC Medal of Distinction for his excellent work at the UN.
After this meeting we still had not heard from the UN re our programme and so the Directors left New York for their various countries. The day after they left, I received a phone call from Mr. Patrick Carey, Director of Office, Office of the Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary General, inviting me to attend a meeting the following day. I invited Hon. Eken who accompanied me to that meeting. At that meeting, I was presented with a letter from the Chef de Cabinet of the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations H. E. Ban ki-Moon.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Foote,
Your letter dated 21 February, 2013 to the Secretary General with respect to the planned celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 refers.
Allow me firstly, on his behalf, to express my best wishes for the forthcoming anniversary, which is a suitable time to reflect on the importance of the framework for consular relations which the treaty established.
With respect to the specific proposals contained in your letter, I wish to inform you of the following. Firstly, with regard to the proposed emplacement of a plaque in the United Nations Headquarters, I regret to inform you that the practice of the Organization is to accept gifts only from Member States. As such, it will not be possible to accept this offer.
Your letter also proposes that the date of 24 April 2013 would be announced as a UN/FICAC International Consular Day to be observed annually and requests that the United Nations endorse the observance of that day. In this regards, I wish to inform you that the United Nations commemorative days are only established if specifically mandated by the General Assembly, which only considers proposals from Member States. As such, a formal endorsement of the United Nations for the proposed commemorative day would not be possible.
With respect to your proposal to honour the Secretary General by awarding him with the FICAC Gold Star, the Secretary General appreciates this esteemed honour. Unfortunately, I regret to inform you that, in keeping with United Nations rules and practices, the Secretary General will be unable to accept the award.
Chef de Cabinet
After reading the letter, I mentioned how disappointed I was that because of certain rules of the United Nations, our proposal was turned down. I then asked the following question of Mr. Carey and his colleagues at the meeting;
Are you telling me that I must write to the Consuls of the world telling them that the United Nations has turned down the FICAC proposal to congratulate the United Nations and celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963?
I also pointed out to Mr. Carey and his team, that we are the only NGO to have recognized this important event and to have officially congratulated the United Nations on the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963.
Mr. Carey immediately said that I misunderstood the situation, as the United Nations appreciates very much, the programme presented by the World Federation of Consuls, and thanks them most sincerely for their congratulations and their efforts to project this anniversary worldwide. He asked us to please launch the programme as planned and told us that Executives from the UN will be delighted to attend the FICAC reception to be held in honour of the United Nations and congratulate the UN on the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963.
He said that H. E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon regrets that he will be unable to attend as he is already committed for a few weeks in advance but he thanks and appreciates the work of our Federation and that His Excellency would send us a brief message to be read at our reception. This was done at our reception and the message circulated in the FICAC News.
Reception to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 – 24th April 2013
The Turkish Ambassador granted us free use of the reception area at the Turkish Center at the request of our Secretary General, Hon. Aykut Eken. Invitations were sent out to all Permanent Representatives at the UN, all Consuls including the Consular Corps of New York. Over 100 country representatives were in attendance at our reception.
The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, H. E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic led the UN delegation.
I will now place on record, excerpts from my address at the reception.
50 years ago today, on 24th April, 1963, the United Nations Conference on Consular Relations adopted and opened for signature, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Optional Protocol concerning acquisition of nationality and the Optional Protocol concerning the compulsory settlement of disputes.
The World Federation of Consuls takes this opportunity to congratulate the United Nations and its member states on the attainment by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of its Golden Jubilee.
While the origin of the Consular institution can be traced back to ancient Greece, it was not until the 12th century that the first figure of the Consul emerged and developed to its present more complex structure. The extraordinary increase of Consulates during the 19th and 20th centuries revealed the need for a precise legal framework specific to the Consular service and the legal status of Consuls.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 recognized that Honorary Consuls that had been extensively utilized in the past, constituted an efficient instrument in enhancing international relations. Later on, changes in social, political and economic activity created a new challenge for the Consular institution; the protection of citizens and the safeguard of their interest.
We have undertaken and extensive programme, which we launch tonight, to congratulate and thank the United Nations, and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations which will involve all our members in every region of the world.
I then asked the gathering to drink a toast to all the members of the United Nations and its Secretary General, H. E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who unfortunately could not be with us this evening, as we observe the 50th Anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The celebration was a huge success and I would like to thank Hon. Aykut Eken and Hon. Gonul Eken his dear wife, for all the work that they did, including arranging the catering for the event.
This very successful FICAC event was organized in only 4 days and special thanks were also communicated to the Turkish Embassy and the Jamaican Embassy who also helped in sending out invitations to our reception.
The President of the General Assembly mentioned that preparations were being made for us to become observers at all General Assembly meetings. Hon. Aykut Eken and I also met with the President of ECOSOC, who is examining the possibility of allowing our Federation to speak at all ECOSOC meetings.
The President of ECOSOC also has the responsibility of approving all IGO members. IGO is Inter-Governmental Organization. Our Federation is ready to apply for membership as an Inter-Governmental Organization, sometimes referred to as an International Governmental Organization and both abbreviated as IGO.
Inter-Governmental Organizations are an important aspect of public international law. IGO’s are established by treaty that acts as a charter creating the group. Treaties are formed by lawful representatives of several states, go through a ratification process providing the IGO with an international legal personality. We are ready to go through whatever ratification process that is necessary for us to qualify.
I am pleased to inform you that already Hon. Aykut Eken and I had preliminary discussions with the President of ECOSOC and Hon. Eken, who assumed responsibility for this programme, will be developing it further for our Federation and I wish him every success in achieving this important objective. He has done a great job for our Federation and I have every confidence that he will eventually succeed.
Our Federation now has international recognition, credibility and influence. This is no ordinary achievement and I would like to congratulate and thank all the members of the Board who have served in this administration and the last 2 administrations which I also had the honour to serve as President.
Over 100 delegates were in attendance at the FICAC 2nd South Asia Regional Consular Conference on 12th August, 2013.
The President of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mahendra Rajapaksa, received one of the highest honours of our Federation at a wonderful reception held at the President’s palace.
The 30th Anniversary Awards Banquet was a huge success and several Consuls in the South Asia Region whose outstanding work was recognized, received Medals of Honour at the banquet.
Hon. Kartar Bhalla, one of our Federation’s most outstanding Consuls, was also honoured by FICAC. Hon. Kartar Bhalla served with distinction and received the FICAC Medal of Distinction for his excellent contribution.
Hon. Bhalla, in his thank you speech at the banquet said;
“I am overwhelmed by the compliments paid by Hon. Arnold Foote while awarding me the Medal of Distinction, a unique honour conferred on an Honorary Consul.
It was he who spotted me at the end of the Montego Bay conference in 2006 and offered me my first assignment as Chairman of the FICAC South Asia Regional Committee, and since then he never allowed me to look back.”
Hon. Daya Weththasinghe, President of the Association of Consuls in Sri Lanka, was also honoured and special congratulations and thanks given to him and his team for organizing a very successful and most enjoyable FICAC conference.
On 2nd October, my wife and I journeyed to Brussels for 20th anniversary of the Belgian Consular Union. The Gala Banquet, which was held at the Palais d’Egmont on 4th October was a huge success.
The President of the Belgian Consular Union, Hon. Willy Deswaef, has served the BCU as its President for the 20 years of its existence and was re-elected that day for yet another term. Our Federation honoured him and recognized his work by presenting him with the FICAC Award of Excellence.
The Gala Banquet had the distinguished presence of the Vice Prime Minister of Belgium, H. E. Mr. Didier Reynders and the President of the European Council, H. E. Mr. Herman Van Rompuy.
I was honoured with the highest honour of the Belgian Consular Union by being presented with a certificate stating that I was made an Honorary Member of the BCU. I was deeply touched by this presentation.
FICAC Medals of Honour were presented to several members of the BCU for their excellent service to the Union.
A Directors meeting and Consular Conference was held in Surabaya on November 15, 2013.
Among other things, the subject of FICAC aisbl was again raised at the meeting and the decision taken to refer this matter to the Chairman Legal Committee to decide regarding nature of the Association I.e. aisbl or de-facto.
I was ill for that meeting and could not attend. I would like to thank Hon. Aykut Eken for chairing the meeting in my absence and doing an excellent job in Surabaya.
On 1st February, 2014 I announced at our Board of Directors meeting in Miami that I will be retiring from the office of President at the end of this term of office. I went on to announce that, in keeping with the FICAC programme celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, we will be honouring Professor Michael Nobel of the Nobel prize family as the first person to be honoured in our programme.
Professor Michael Nobel was born in 1941 in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the world famous Nobel family, the great grandson of industrialist and humanitarian, Ludvig Nobel, the founder of Branobel and one of the world’s richest men in his time. Ludvig was the brother of Alfred Nobel who invented dynamite and established 5 prizes in the family name.
For 15 years he represented the Nobel family as Vice Chairman and later Chairman of its Board of Directors. He is Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Sustainability Trust Foundation. Dr. Nobel also participated in the introduction of Magnetic Resonance Imaging as European Vice President of Fonar Corporation in 1981.
There is a lot more I could tell you about Professor Nobel but time will not permit but I hope what I have just said gives you an idea of the calibre person that, by participating with us, endorses our Federation.
Our Directors meeting and South Europe Consular Conference was held in Serbia on 9th May, 2014. This was our first meeting ever in Belgrade and I must say how beautiful it is and how wonderful their hospitality was from we arrived in Serbia.
During our meeting in Serbia, our Federation had the distinct honour and privilege of meeting with the President of Serbia, His Excellency Tomislav Nikolic, who, on the recommendation of the Consular Corps of Serbia was presented with the FICAC Gold Star, the highest honour of our Federation.
We also had the distinct honour, privilege and pleasure of meeting HRH Crown Prince Alexander II and HRH Crown Princess Katherine at the Royal Palace.
I would like to congratulate and thank the Consular Corps of Serbia for organizing the first FICAC Directors meeting and conference in Serbia which was a huge success.
The 2nd FICAC South Europe Conference was held in Bari, Italy on October 10 – 12, 2014 and it was very successful. The Board of Directors visited the President of the Apulia Region and a special presentation was made to His Excellency Nichi Vendola, President of the Apulia Region.
New security risks and challenges for Consuls were discussed at length at this meeting and a special committee was appointed to deal with this important issue.
With the increase in the number of Consuls worldwide, the work of the World Federation of Consuls assumes a greater strategic importance, as the organization that works to preserve, protect and develop the Consular system so that both Sending and Receiving States can receive mutual benefits.
The World Federation of Consuls is seeking to advance the interest of Consuls in a rapidly changing global environment which affects the nature of the work they do and the conditions under which they work.
One of the significant challenges facing Consuls globally is the emergence of new security risks that threaten to undermine their effectiveness. The events of September 11th, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya have brought into sharp focus the new security environment in many countries. Events like these led the international community and individual states and groups of countries to evaluate the security risks to diplomatic and consular missions and to propose sweeping new changes.
These policy and strategic changes constitute part of the conceptual re-definition of international and national security.
Diplomatic and Consular relations are now being conducted in an increasing environment of security risks to the personnel and property of missions throughout the world. These threats are themselves the result of internal and external factors which directly or indirectly affect the state’s capacity to protect its own citizens and to discharge its responsibilities to provide a secure environment for Diplomatic and Consular missions.
Until recently, Consuls were able to rely for their protection on the provisions of the Vienna Convention, yet the attacks on foreign missions of many countries in different parts of the world have laid bare the vulnerability of Consuls.
The World Federation of Consuls has formed a committee with several objectives designed to urge the international community and individual governments to take those measures that will address the new threats and improve the safety and security of Consuls so that they may be able to discharge their responsibilities in an effective manner in the future.
I urge the new administration to appoint new members or re-appoint existing members of this committee as quickly as possible, to continue the development of this programme, which is of vital importance to all our members.
MIAMI January 2015
On 15th January, 2015, the 9th meeting of the Board of Directors and Latin America Consular Conference was held at the Sofitel Hotel in Miami, Florida.
Firstly, I reported to the Directors meeting that we had worked successfully with the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organization (CVQO), an international British organization that gives assistance to children at risk worldwide through education. Excellent work is being developed in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.
My wife and I were invited by The Lord Lingfield, Chairman of CVQO, to meet with him for High Tea at the House of Lords. The Lord Lingfield is Pro-Chancellor of the Brunei University, and his appointment of Knight Principal of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor (Chairman of the Knights Council) was approved by Her Majesty The Queen in 2006. He was knighted for his services to education in 2003.
During tea, Lord Lingfield congratulated FICAC on the work it is doing internationally and invited us to have a Directors meeting later in the year at the House of Lords. The meeting was set for November 3.
For FICAC to be invited to have a meeting at the House of Lords in England, is a great achievement and a great honour for the Federation and for this administration.
FICAC Latin American Consular Conference
The theme of this conference was, “Latin America and Caribbean Cooperation”.
This Latin America and Caribbean Consular Conference was the finest ever held by the World Federation of Consuls in that region.
We had the following speakers at our Miami Conference:
- Michael Meade, Deputy Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who spoke on Homeland Security.
- Ambassador Amadei from the European Union, speaking on how the EU operates in the Caribbean and Latin America, giving excellent information to our members.
- Ambassador Paul Robotham of Jamaica, speaking on Caribbean and Latin American Integration
- Ambassador Arun Kashyap from the United Nations Development Program who made an excellent presentation on climate change in the region.
- Irving Fourcand, Director of Protocol and International Affairs at Miami International Airport. He created the Consular Lounge at the Miami Airport which is the only one of its kind in the world, and I sincerely hope that other airports will consider creating a similar lounge in their country.
At dinner, we had the honour of an excellent address by US Congressman Alcee Hastings.
At the Gala Dinner and presentation ceremony, Professor Dr. Michael Nobel of the world famous Nobel family, was the guest speaker and his excellent presentation was appreciated and enjoyed by all.
Never before have we had so many Ambassadors making presentations to our Federation, giving useful information to all the representatives from the Caribbean and Latin America Region.
Based on reports from the Chairman of World Congress 2015, Hon. Sylvain Cohen, who was very concerned that no work was being done to develop the World Congress programme in Indonesia which caused great concern at the level of the Board of Directors, I had no alternative but to take a delegation to Indonesia to offer assistance and guidance where necessary to ensure a successful World Congress 2015 which was scheduled for that country.
I was accompanied by Hon. Aykut Eken and Hon. Vince Carlos who is also Chairman of the East Asia Regional Committee.
We arrived on 1st March and were taken straight into a meeting with Hon. Pardede and several members of AHCI.
I told the meeting that we came to Indonesia to work closely with them and finalize arrangements for the World Congress of Consuls 2015 to be held in Bali. I then asked Hon. Pardede to give me a report as to what had been done to date regarding the development of the programme for our World Congress.
He started talking about everything else except the programme and eventually stated that FICAC was no good and its President was no good also. I then repeated my question. Instead of replying, he adjourned the meeting and said that he would not be able to meet with us the following day, Monday 2nd.
This statement upset us as we had taken a very long and expensive trip to Indonesia to meet with him on these dates.
The following morning the Directors of AHCI invited our delegation to a meeting and apologized for the behavior of their President and admitted publicly that no work had been done on the World Congress of Consuls 2015 to date.
I then mentioned that his insults to our Federation and to me leave little alternative for us. They agreed but asked us not to announce that we removed the World Congress from Indonesia because no work was done to date. Instead, allow them to announce that they would not be able to host the World Congress 2015 and asked to be relieved of that responsibility. This would put them in a face-saving position to which we agreed.
They also asked us that they be given the opportunity to host the FICAC World Congress 2018. To this we also agreed.
I would like to congratulate our Chairman of World Congress 2015, Hon. Sylvain Cohen, for the work he did in following up the situation in Indonesia as he was very correct in stating that they had done no work to date on WCC 2915 and some action should be taken.
I would like to thank Hon. Aykut Eken and Hon. Vince Carlos for their support at this very important meeting. Hon. Vince Carlos’ Chairmanship of that region was vital because the members knew that the Chairman of the region was very familiar with what was happening in their country and worked very closely with him to ensure the successful outcome of the meeting.
The day before the Directors meeting, a special meeting was held in Sao Paulo with the Directors of ACONBRAS, the largest Consular Corps in Brazil. It was an excellent meeting and the President, Hon. Luis Fernando Del Valle, pledged his Corps’ continued support for the World Federation of Consuls and went on to say they will be working much closer with the Federation from now on.
Our Directors meeting was held in Curitiba, on 18th April, 2015 and went extremely well. The work of the delegation that represented FICAC in Indonesia was ratified and approved at the directors meeting.
The Consular Corps of Curitiba is a very active Corps and the Directors were very impressed with their presentations. Congratulations are in order for Hon. Thomas Amaral Neves who was elected recently President of the Consular Corps of Curitba. Congratulations Hon. Thomas. I wish you every success with your term of office as President. The Consular Corps of Curitiba is a member of FICAC.
The Board of Directors met in London at the Park Plaza Hotel on September 8, 2015.
The Ernst & Young audited Financial Report of the World Federation of Consuls, was approved.
The FICAC World Congress of Consuls 2015 scheduled for Istanbul Turkey from 18 – 21 November, 2015 was presented by Hon. Eken and discussed in detail. The programme was approved.
Mr. Guy Horridge, Chief Executive Officer of CVQO, made a presentation to the Board about the next FICAC Directors meeting to be held on 3rd November which was discussed and all protocols observed and understood.
FICAC Board of Directors meeting at the House of Lords, 3rd November, 2015
The FICAC House of Lords meeting was officially opened by Lord Lingfield, who hosted the Directors at the House of Lords.
In his opening address, Lord Lingfield said:
It’s a pleasure to host the members of FICAC here at the House of Lords. I am so very impressed with the work that you do as the World Federation of Consuls and, under the guidance of your President, Professor Arnold Foote, I am delighted that we are able to create and formalise a new partnership with CVQO in the UK. As pacesetters in your countries, you are the men and women with vision to go forward, selflessly and not for personal reward. For this I salute you all, for it ties in with the ethos that we at CVQO also have.
“President Foote has been keen to make education an important part of the work of FICAC and it is his enthusiasm to make this happen that has resulted in the signing of a statement of understanding between FICAC and CVQO. Thanks to President Foote’s vision we have a hope that the lives of thousands of young people around the world can be improved, giving for the first time some real hope to young people in countries all around the world.
“It is President Foote’s leadership, innovative thinking, determination and willingness to find new ways of improving the lives of young people that has made this partnership possible and I am confident it will be an incredibly positive lasting legacy of his outstanding time as President of FICAC. I would therefore like to award him the Sir Robert Balchin Medal in recognition not only for all that he has achieved with you but for his enthusiasm and support for education; his desire to create a practical response to the challenges of young people; his vision in setting up this very strong link with CVQO; and for all the positive things that he represents. President Foote I salute you. This medal is a personal one from my family and goes back to the seventeenth century and my ancestors. It is awarded on rare occasions to those who have made a real difference. President Foote you are such a man – thank you. ”
For the President of the World Federation of Consuls, and by extension the Federation itself, to be honoured on this historic occasion in the House of Lords by The Lord Lingfield, gives the Federation recognition at the highest level and is something very special. It an honour that we should cherish forever.
After regaining my composure, I thanked Lord Lingfield for this great honour and told him how much I appreciated all that he has said and done for our Federation.
I then addressed the conference.
Following my address, a Statement of Cooperation between FICAC and CVQO (Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organization) was signed. The agreement was signed by Lord Lingfield, Mr. Guy Horridge, Hon. Aykut Eken and myself.
After the Directors meeting which approved among other things, the entire programme for the FICAC World Congress of Consuls 2015, the group was taken on a tour of the House of Lords building by Lord Lingfield himself and I think that it is safe to say that everyone was impressed and enjoyed the House of Lords experience thoroughly.
I would now like to place on record a few of my other accomplishments for FICAC over the years.
- In 2004, I created, designed and produced the FICAC logo and letterhead free of cost to the Federation
- In 2005, I created the FICAC Decorations programme, starting with the FICAC Gold Star, which is made of 24 carat gold and presented only to distinguished world leaders. This was approved by the then Dahlman administration. The only problem I had at the time was how to give the Gold Star the recognition it required for it to be accepted by distinguished world leaders. I was very pleased when the Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honourable PJ Patterson, honoured us by allowing us to honour him with the FICAC Gold Star. After I made the Gold Star at a cost of over US$2,500 produced in the United States, I received a message from President Dahlman that they were not going to support it and that they were not going to pay for it. At that time, I had already organized a black tie event, inviting over 600 guests to attend. It could not have been changed. Over 450 guests were present at the dinner and FICAC Director, Hon. Wilhelm Brouwer and his dear wife, came to represent our Federation. It was a huge success and the medal was presented to the Prime Minister of Jamaica. This got international publicity and as a result, the medal got international credibility.
- Some of the world leaders who have received the Gold Star are; Prime Minister of Jamaica – The Most Hon. PJ Patterson, President of the Philippines – H.E. Benigno Aquino, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, President of Ghana – H. E. John Kufuor, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, President of Serbia – H. E. Tomislav Nikolic, President of Turkey – H. E. Abdullah Gul, Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomeos I.
- Several other distinguished citizens of the world have received FICAC recognition including; Professor Michael Nobel of the world famous Nobel family, President of Sri Lanka, H. E. Mahendra Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Thailand, General Surayud Chulanont, The Lord Lingfield of the United Kingdom, Congressman Dan Burton of the United States to name a few.
- The FICAC Medal of Honour was designed to give recognition to Consuls and Consuls General who have served their Consular Corps with distinction.
- The FICAC website was created, designed and produced by me in 2005, free of cost to the World Federation of Consuls
- The FICAC News was also created, designed and produced by me, free of cost to our Federation.
Rules to be observed, approved by the Board, for FICAC News and FICAC website are as follows:
- The President has sole control over the website
- The President is the only person to have access to the website other than the webmaster
- A professional webmaster must always be employed to do FICAC’s work
- The President controls content of the website
- The website and the FICAC News are to project the work of the President and his administration in order to keep the membership of FICAC up to date on their activities
- There are sections on the website for news from all regions
- The FICAC News is produced to cover all Directors meetings and Consular Conferences and is carried on the website. Members are now downloading the FICAC News from the website as soon as it has been posted.
In the earlier years, we printed the FICAC News and circulated it to our members and to diplomats for them to send copies to their Ministries of Foreign Affairs. This was done to create an awareness of our Federation with all the countries that are members of the United Nations. One of my companies designed the layout and produced the camera ready artwork for printing of the FICAC News free of cost to the World Federation of Consuls for over 10 years.
It is important to note that the ownership of the website ficacworld.org and the FICAC News was legally handed over to the World Federation of Consuls during the Dahlman administration at no cost to the Federation.
I will now give you some information regarding our website from MASAKA, the webmaster that handles the FICAC website.
The MASAKA report is on a per month basis from June 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015.
In June there were 14,520 visitors to ficacworld.org. July there were 18,847, August there were 16,304, September – 20,741, October – 19,227.
The average page views for the period was 106,265.4 and the average hits for the period was 215,587.4.
The top 10 viewed pages on ficacworld.org for June – October 2015:
Main page – 18,624
News – 3,917
FICAC News – 2441
FICAC News June 2015 – 729
Guidelines – 503
FICAC News September 2013 – 402
FICAC News February 2014 – 296
FICAC News January 2013 – 227
FICAC News March 2014 – 195
Vienna Convention – 186
The average visit to FICACWORLD.ORG in terms of time spent on the site is 26:43 (Twenty six minutes and forty three seconds)
The average number of pages viewed on FICACWORLD.ORG per visit by each unique visitor is 29 pages
For the period of June 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015, the FICACWORLD.ORG domain has had a total of eighty nine thousand, six hundred, eighty nine (89,689) unique visitors at an average monthly rate of seventeen thousand, nine hundred and thirty-eight (17,938) visitors each month.
The statistics show a low of 14,520 visitors in June and a high of 20,741 in September. This indicates a high volume of viewership over the period in review with consistent levels of visits from Australia, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Norway, Singapore, Ukraine, India, The Czech Republic, Brazil, Romania, Canada, China, Belgium and Mexico.
Interest in the website has been varied and extensive with all pages enjoying an unprecedented level of interest. In all the time we have monitored visitor statistics for the FICACWORLD.ORG domain these are the highest numbers recorded.
Over the same period, visitors to the website have visited on average twenty nine (29) pages and spent an average of twenty seven (27) minutes perusing the pages of the site.
Last but not least, I created our slogan; “FICAC… Working hard to serve you better” which I hope will continue to motivate our leaders in the future.
As I close my report, I would again like to thank all the Directors, all the Chairmen of Central Committees and Regions and all the members of the World Federation of Consuls for the excellent contributions they made during the terms of office of the 3 administrations that I served as your President.
After giving my report to you as your President for the last time, it is with a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude that I will be retiring from office leaving our Federation in a much better position than it was when I was elected as your President for the first time in 2006.
Our Federation has come a long way, ladies and gentlemen, but we still have a long way to go. I have spoken very often about my 2030 plan which is simply that I want our Federation to run parallel with the United Nations by the year 2030.
I want to see many more countries join our Federation.
I want to see the programmes that we have developed utilized in more countries bringing great benefit to the people.
I want to see greater participation of FICAC in the partnership role we play with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation environment and climate change programme.
I want to see greater participation in our outreach programmes.
I want to see the developed countries that are members of our Federation give more assistance to developing and under-developed countries, organizing trade expos with them in order for them to sell more goods to the developed nations which will give them more opportunities, a better standard of living and help them with their balance of payments.
I want to see the further strengthening of our Way Forward programmes, as it is only through these programmes that we can make the contribution necessary to build our Federation.
I would like to say a special thank you to the indefatiguable Hon. Aykut Eken, for the excellent support given to me over the years and for his professional handling of the FICAC Secretariat and Treasury. Doing both jobs is not easy and he did them well
I thank God for giving me the strength, the wisdom and the understanding that was necessary to do the job over the years.
Before closing, I would like to thank my dear wife for her excellent support, her patience and tolerance, her love and assistance during the nearly 15 years that I have served this great organization.
I would like also to wish the new administration good luck and God speed as they carry out their duties to serve the members of our Federation and to take FICAC to new heights and areas of success as it continues to contribute to the world which we inhabit together.