THE HONOURABLE ARNOLD FOOTE OJ, CD, JP,
2nd FICAC South Europe Regional Conference
Bari, Italy – October 10, 2014
- Hon. Professor Stelio Campanale, Master of Ceremonies
- Hon. Francesco Maria Amoruso, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean
- Directors of the World Federation of Consuls and members of our Federation
- Hon. Professor Ugo Patroni Griffi, Dean of the Consular Corps of Puglia, Basilicata and Molise
- Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I stand before you today, pleased and privileged to be part of this 2nd FICAC South Europe Regional Consular Conference.
I cannot say enough about the graciousness and the hospitality that we have all received from we arrived here in beautiful Bari. Thank you very much
I would like to congratulate and thank Hon. Stelio Campanale, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the FICAC South Europe Conference, and the Dean of the Consular Corps of Puglia, Basilicata and Molise, Hon. Ugo Patroni Griffi, and members of the Corps, for the work they have done to make this conference possible.
The World Federation of Consuls was established in Copenhagen in October 1982. Our Federation was born out of the necessity to bring together Consular Corps and Consular Associations to share experiences and coordinate efforts to enhance the effectiveness and status of the Consul.
Our Federation is incorporated in Belgium by Royal Decree as a non-profit international organization with its Permanent Secretariat located in Brussels.
The Federation’s business is conducted through several committees, each operating with clearly defined portfolios and terms of reference.
These Committees include;
- Trade Development
- Consular Privileges Protection,
- International Relations,
- Public Relations,
- 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 –The World Federation of Consuls has signed a partnership agreement with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation for environment and climate change. FICAC will assist in promoting international awareness of these important matters.
- Vienna Convention Review
- Advisory Committee
- Consular Security
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 World Federation of Consuls has achieved international credibility, recognition and influence.
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.
On 24th April, 2013, the World Federation of Consuls congratulated the United Nations on the 50th Anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. We celebrated the occasion in New York with a cocktail reception at which over 100 country representatives were present.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, unfortunately could not attend, but sent a message to our Federation which has been circulated to our membership worldwide.
The then President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Vuk Jeremic, led the guest list of diplomats representing nations from all over the world.
It was an historic occasion, as our Federation is the only organization to have congratulated the United Nations on the 50th Anniversary of its Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
In the dynamic international arena of our times, the key to growth and development is partnership within and between nations.
FICAC provides an appropriate forum for consultation and networking as we build partnerships for the effective performance of our duties in a rapidly changing world.
It is in this context that consular representatives must constantly update the theory and practice of their craft, if they are to remain relevant to the global struggle for peace, security and sustainable development.
Consular operations can no longer be confined to the issuance of travel documents and attention to the welfare of nationals of the countries that we represent, as globalization has altered the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Several countries worldwide are closing their embassies for budgetary reasons and are appointing more honorary consuls to serve in countries where they have business interests.
The role of the honorary consul must be expanded to encompass the full range of economic, political and diplomatic relations. This expanded role is particularly important for developing countries and small states which cannot afford global deployment of their foreign service.
A critically important component of the foundation of peace, democracy and development, is economic growth. In today’s world economy, which is being transformed by a comprehensive process of advanced globalization, international trade is the engine of economic growth, and has assumed an increasingly prominent role in state to state relations.
The development of trade is one of the main functions of the Consul, and its promotion is integral to my administration.
The purpose of the FICAC Trade Development Committee is to promote cross border business, trade development and networking among members. Its operation is to organize and host trade expos and trade missions.
The members of our Federation are ideally suited to participate positively in trade promotion activities. Indeed, Consular Corps have a comparative advantage in undertaking trade promotion because Consular Corps have a much broader geographic deployment and can therefore provide more extensive coverage than Diplomatic Corps
This is particularly so for developing countries who are unable to afford diplomatic representation in all the locations where they have important economic interests.
The Consular Corps has a presence in all major cities, in the centres of commerce and industry, whereas the Diplomatic Corps is concentrated in capital cities, which in several cases are political rather than economic centres.
The Consular Corps include a very high proportion of Consuls with considerable business expertise and they are ideally suited for developing trade.
The members of our Federation are immersed in communities in ways in which diplomats cannot be, and their knowledge of local conditions and local products can be useful in identifying niche markets, distribution networks and new tradable goods and services.
International trade expos and trade fairs have been successfully organized by our members. The member corps that have done this, have seen their image and status grow considerably.
They have earned the respect of the Goverment of the country, and in particular the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the private sector and the public.
This programme will also develop better relations between the Diplomatic Corps and the Consular Corps, as the Diplomatic Corps involvement in the FICAC International Trade Expo is vital to its success.
This programme is unique. It is the only trade promotional programme worldwide that promotes trade directly between the sending and receiving states.
The FICAC International Trade Expo offers countries an opportunity to do business without having to deal with large budgets and large participation costs. It is an event which provides the right environment for bilateral and multilateral trade and information.
Our participation in the promotion of commercial links between member countries is of vital importance to us.
Sponsorship from the private sector is easily available because of the importance of this programme at national and international levels.
The future lies in the development of fair trade in this region and the rest of the world.
Our work in this modern world has taken on new and significant dimensions. Despite e-mails, web cameras and video conferencing, there is no substitute for meeting someone face to face, making personal acquaintances, building on the networks and friendships that we already have, and making new friends and contacts.
That process can only increase our effectiveness in the roles we are called upon to play. That is one of the opportunities that we have here in Bari, Italy.
And so I welcome you, I thank you for coming, I know that you will find this conference worth your while.
Thank you very much.