Federation des Union des Consuls Honoraires en Europe
(FEDERATION OF THE UNIONS OF HONORARY
CONSULS IN EUROPE)
1. The evolution of the honorary consulate duty
As generally known, honorary consulate duty is playing a more and more important (sometimes essential) role in international relations in every country. This is proved by the third chapter of the 24.04.1963 Vienna Convention on "the regulation concerning the honorary consuls", which acknowledges the joint nature of honorary and career consuls. Many European countries, owing to the high cost of supporting career Consulates, have gradually resolved to replace them with honorary representatives. Today even highly industrialized Countries (U.S.A., Great Britain, Belgium, etc.) avail themselves of the assistance of the Honorary Consulates, as well as those (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, U.S.A., etc.) which before or immediately after the last World War, especially from Europe, recorded a strong immigration up to the '60s. Moreover there have appeared, on the international scene, many newly independent Countries - both African and Asiatic -which, due to the scarcity if not for absolute lack of financial resources, have experienced substantial emigration to other Continents: above all Europe. As a consequence, these new Countries need to provide an adequate assistance to their citizens through Representatives, i.e. Honorary Representatives, which, being free of charge, do not burden their national economy. This expansion has contributed to engender the need to exchange knowledge and experiences for the Honorary Consuls who have attended for years such a burdensome but nevertheless prestigious duty, in order to accomplish a more qualified work and to obtain better protection in carrying out their duties.
2. The National Organization of Honorary Consuls: purposes and goals
Non-profit organizations (Associations or Unions) devoid of political or syndical purposes and representing exclusively the category of honorary consuls, have been established in the territory of various European and non-European Countries, divided in four classes (Art. 9 of the Convention) operating in various territories of each Country. These organizations have adopted special articles, for the attainments of goals allowing, through their elective organs, the following:
a) the promotion of relations for a better and reciprocal acquaintance;
b) the diffusion of useful information for the accomplishment of consular duties;
c) the protection of the dignity and prestige of the honorary consulate mission;
d) the enactment of the articles contained in the Vienna Convention;
e) the promotion, both in the residing Country and abroad, of all the social and cultural initiatives which would show the duties of the Honorary Consul to better advantage.
3. The establishment of National Unions or Associations and the creation of the F.U.C.H.E.
A) The following Unions or Associations have been created through the abovementioned deeds and specific statutes:
in 26.02.1977 the Union of Honorary Consuls in Italy (U.C.O.I.);
in 04.12.1982 the Union of Honorary Consuls in Belgium;
in 15.04.1983 the Association of Honorary Consuls in Argentina (A.C.H.A.);
in 22.12.1984 the Association of Honorary Consuls in Brazil;
in 10.02.1995 the Union of Honorary Consuls in Malta;
in 22.03.1995 the Association of Honorary Consuls in Germany;
in 03.05.1995 the Union of Honorary Consuls in San Marino;
in 19.07.1996 the Union of Honorary Consuls in France.
B) Owing to the initiative of the U.C.O.I. in 17.06.1995, at the European Parliament in Brussels, the Fédération des Unions des Consuls Honoraires en Europe (F.U.C.H.E.) was created. In the same occasion, with the participation of sixty Honorary Consuls operating in several European Countries and in the presence of the Secretary-General of European Parliament, Enrico Vinci, the Statute was unanimously approved, and the representatives hereunder were elected for the first three year period: President of the F.U.C.H.E., the Secretary-General of U.C.O.I. and Honorary Consul of Japan and Malta in Naples, Mr. Michele Di Gianni; Secretary-General, the President of the Union of the Honorary Consuls of Belgium and Honorary Consul of Italy in Ostend, Mr. Willy Deswaef; Vice-President, the President of the Union of the Honorary Consuls of Germany and Honorary Consul of Norway in Hannover, Mr. Jurgen Middendorff.
C) The F.U.C.H.E. held its second Congress in 17.06.1996 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during which the text of an "Ethical Code of Honorary Consuls" was approved by the participating National Organizations. This had already been approved by the U.C.O.I. during the XX National Assembly which took place on the Island of Capri in June 2, 1996 (this Code has been adopted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and issued to all the Foreign Diplomatic Representatives accredited in Rome and to all Italian Embassies in Foreign Countries). Every National Organization present or represented, reserved the right to submit the Ethical Code to the approbation of the members of their own Organization. During the Congress, according to the art. 5 of the Statute, the Second Vice-President, President of the Association of Honorary Consuls in Malta and Honorary Consul of Panama in La Valletta, Mr. John Gauci Maistre, was elected. Finally it was decided to hold the third F.U.C.H.E. Congress at the end of Spring 1997 at the European Union in Luxembourg. In the afternoon of the same day the participants had the privilege of being invited to the tribune of honour at the European Parliament for the opening of the plenary session. The Chairman Klaus Hansch addressed a cordial welcome to the Honorary Consuls in Europe, saying that he was pleased they had been invited for the second time at the European Parliament.
4. The role of the National Organizations inside Europe
The gratifying success obtained by F.U.C.H.E. is auspicious for the future and will stimulate each national organization to strengthen its presence in the respective Countries, thus helping the Federation to carry out its positive role within the European institutions. It is by now incontestable that the Honorary Consulates perform a duty which is essential in protecting the Community requirements in the social, cultural and economic fields. The acknowledgment by the highest Brussels authorities of the F.U.C.H.E. shows their interest in the Federal Association's aim of realizing an aid program common to all European Countries. Naturally, the F.U.C.H.E. role is also important to the development of mutual relations among European Countries. The imminent constitution of National Organizations in Eastern Europe is an encouragement to continue along the path taken two years ago and, inside the big family of Honorary Consuls, to attain a goal of solidarity not limited to the European continent only.
5. Toward the creation of a World Federation
The desirable adoption by the F.U.C.H.E. of a common code of conduct based on the Ethic Code presented by the U.C.O.I. in Strasbourg, is the first, essential bond to safeguard the prestige and duty of the Honorary Consuls on an international level. The F.U.C.H.E. intends, after strengthening its structure in the European Continent, to accept the invitation of the Honorary Consuls Associations created in South America (Brazil and Argentina) for the creation of similar Federations in other Continents. Only then will it be possible to create, at the beginning of the millennium, a World Federation accredited to the United Nations.
To obtain copies of the deeds and statutes adopted by Honorary Consulates in various Countries, as well as for any other information, please contact:
F.U.C.H.E. General Secretary
Archimedesstraat 17, 8400 Oostende (Belgium)
Tel. +32 59 707546 - Fax + 32 59 706655