As Government continues to pursue its stated mandate to forge closer diplomatic ties with various countries across the world, the Consular Corps of Barbados is diligently working behind the scenes to assist with furthering economic and cultural cooperation between itself and these countries.
Dean of the Consular Corps and the Honorary Consul for Bahamas, Selwyn Smith, revealed this fact during a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, during which he gave details about some of the Corps??? activities.
According to Mr. Smith, the Honorary Consul???s role is set out under Article Five of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which was approved in 1963, but came into force in 1967.
He said the Honorary Consul is appointed through an agreement between the sending country – the state that appoints the Honorary Consul – and the receiving country in which he/she is appointed to serve.
The list of functions of the Honorary Consul include protecting the interests of nationals, furthering the development of commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations between member governments and Barbados; promoting friendly relations regarding developments in the commercial, economic, cultural and scientific life of the receiving state; and issuing passports and travel documents to nationals of the sending state and visas or appropriate documents to persons wishing to travel to the sending state.
Mr. Smith outlined the process of appointing an Honorary Consul to serve in a receiving country. ???The person who is being appointed to represent the sending state must be in good standing in the community, [and] respect the laws of Barbados. [Then] ??? Barbados will have the opportunity to decide if the person selected is suitable for appointment and at the end of this process, that person is given an Exequatur (which confers certain rights and privileges to facilitate the work of the Honorary Consul) to operate in the receiving country,” he explained.
Mr. Smith said working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to maintain diplomatic relations, was an ongoing process, with a two-fold aim ??? the strengthening of relations between countries and the initiation of activities that would benefit the states in the commercial, cultural and scientific arenas. He added that the corps was currently involved in a number of projects that would prove instrumental in facilitating trade between the two countries and said efforts were on to ???identify and explore areas of mutual interest???.
At the diplomatic level, the Dean of the Consular Corps intimated that Honorary Consuls were also required to assist nationals in difficult situations such as replacing lost passports and liaising with various embassies regarding the issuance of temporary visas to facilitate travel.
???There are a range of things that can happen. Some people do have persons who are arrested and charged and it is the Consul???s business to ensure that all goes well. There are some Honorary Consuls who visit prisoners from time-to-time because that is part of the work that the Consuls do.
???Incidentally, you can have one of your nationals being robbed. Some years ago, the Bahamas volleyball team was robbed of all their passports and money.
This situation required that we [Honorary Consuls] make their stay as comfortable as we can and then try to secure the travel documents to travel back to their homeland,??? Mr. Smith explained.
He further stated: ???Sometimes a national dies in a country and the Honorary Consul has to [sometimes] find a way to sort out the developing circumstances that are associated with a national dying abroad and how to transport the body back to their homeland.???
There are currently 26 members of the Consular Corps of Barbados, which according to its Dean, meets regularly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations and with other agencies to see how they can assist with the Consuls??? work.
The countries represented by Honorary Consuls are: Australia; Austria; the Bahamas; Belgium; Chile; Denmark; Ecuador; Finland; France; Germany; Ghana; Haiti; India; Israel; Italy; Japan; Republic of Korea; Luxembourg; Mexico; Kingdom of the Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Spain; Suriname; Sweden; and Switzerland.
More information on the Consular Corps may be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade at 431-2200 or Mr. Selwyn Smith at 424-5082. He may also be reached by emailing email@example.com.