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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that while not all consular activities involve a degree of diplomacy or international, high politics, the consular institution as a whole has been – and continues to be – constitutive of commercial and economic diplomacy, consular diplomacy, visa diplomacy, and, to a lesser extent, even political and public diplomacy. It is organized as follows. The first section briefly reviews change in the consular institution throughout the centuries, and considers its core concepts and context. This is followed by an analysis of the interrelationship between consular functions and diplomacy. Building on these findings, the third section, on consular governance and politics, considers foreign and domestic goals of consular affairs and discusses the changing role of the state. The article concludes with observations on the consular institution in relation to the theory and practice of diplomacy. It argues that foreign ministries in the years ahead need a forward-looking strategy to balance the tension between securing broad national interests and protecting the narrow interests of individual citizens – travelling, living, or doing business abroad.

Keywords: consular activities, consuls, consular institution, diplomacy, foreign ministries, national interest

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