State of the Consular Corps
Dear Consuls General, dear Consuls, dear friends,
As your secretary, it is my duty to report to you on the past year. This is somewhat difficult, since I have only taken up my duty in the Spring of 2015. But here goes.
Mayor Garcetti stated a few months ago: "Governor Brown once advised me to be judicious with my public utterances. "He said, ’You’ve got about five chances to really talk to everybody. Don’t waste them.” He was probably optimistic. I will start from the assumption that I got only one chance.
The website of the consular corps has been updated and upgraded. This tool is now totally ready to be better used, and you have seen some changes in the past months:
- consulates can use the mail tool to send out verbal notes or other messages of general interest;
- much more messages have been distributed, on behalf of consulates or directly from the Dean and the executive committee;
- Jaak’s guides have been sent regularly and to all interested;
- Separate email lists for members and non members allow for better targeted mail campaigns;
- If needed, daily updates of the member’s and precedence lists procure accurate information for all members;
- Minutes of the meetings of the executive committee are now posted online, since March 2015 available for all members;
- More to come.
Important: check your own consulate’s information page; check your email address; as the Secretary, I will conduct an information and update campaign right after this general meeting. All 102 Consulates General and Consulates should be immediately reachable through our mail tool.
Other activities of the secretary constitute the core of today’s meeting. Together with Dean Zerihun Retta and all the members of the Executive Committee, in particular second vice dean Jaak Treiman, we have tried to clean up some of the historical clutter in our beloved consular corps.
This burned down to the key question: habeas corpus consularis ? All of us, with reckless abandon have pursued a thorough debate inside the executive committee, but also with all of you. Jaak and I have been listening very carefully to your comments, suggestions, remarks.
The discussion was not easy, and in fact did not come to a conclusion until we really got down to the fundamentals. But there you have it: we believe that what we propose today is right. Albert Einstein said: “Always do what’s right; this will gratify some and astonish the rest”. Our only goal is comprised in the US Declaration of Independence: “to form a more perfect consular corps”.
Our guidelines: Conformity with the codified international law, in particular the Vienna Convention of 1963 on consular relations. Conformity with the customary international law, for everything related to diplomatic and consular corps. And most of all, again Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.
So here we stand today. We have dissolved the incorporated non-profit organization, which in fact was never activated, never adopted bylaws and never applied for non-profit status. We go back to the essentials: we are who we are. Membership is defined by our sending states and by the government of the United States of America, here represented by two of its finest, Lourdes Saab and Jim Paravonian.
I like to quote the website of Los Angeles County: “Whenever more than one consul is posted to a location there is a body known as the consular corps. It is a body sui generis (without legal standing) to act collectively. Each government must act for itself.”
As the consular corps we are and have always been, we can adopt rules of procedures, to clarify our daily operations. The executive committee has prepared a text for you to consider, to amend and to adopt or reject. Let me say again how essential Jaak’s contributions have been all throughout our drafting exercise.
To conclude my report, I should of course also mention the numerous activities we have organized in the course of 2015, with a fantastic holiday party in Newport Beach on December 19. We have many plans for 2016 and will discuss them at the end of this meeting or during lunch
Finally, I want to thank all of my colleagues and friends for their trust. You know the saying: never trust a thin chef. I would say: never trust a thin secretary. All throughout the lengthy and sometimes difficult work of the past months, I have very strongly felt your support and your trust, from all regions of the world. Without it, we would not have achieved the result we can present you today. A very warm thank you.
Rudi Veestraeten, Secretary of the Los Angeles Consular Corps