The Honorary Consul in International Law: a vital foreign policy tool in need of modernisation and reform

Masters Thesis

Griffiths, R. (2019). The Honorary Consul in International Law: a vital foreign policy tool in need of modernisation and reform. Masters Thesis
AuthorsGriffiths, R.
TypeMasters Thesis

The honorary consul has a storied past which has been intertwined with consular affairs since antiquity. In today’s multipolar and interconnected world, the honorary consuls have found their position within the fabric of consular and diplomatic intercourse, allowing the institution to acclimatize amidst the political and social milieu of international affairs and foreign policy.

The institution of the honorary consul has thrived on the fringes of public policy, diplomatic and consular intercourse. However, non-state actors, the outsourcing of public and consular functions, and the centralization of consul services through virtual offices are becoming the new norm: does the honorary consul institution require modernization and reform in order to survive?

As a research-based thesis, the intent is to make an original contribution to the academic and legal community, on a little known yet highly significant diplomatic function. Academic and legal scholarship has not given significant attention to the legal and diplomatic function of the honorary consul, yet their prominence within the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963), as well as the fact that over 20,000 honorary consuls are serving worldwide, warrants a tailored research paper. A particular focus is needed on the immunities and privileges afforded to honorary consul within international codified law and the use of the honorary consul model in contemporary diplomatic and interstate intercourse.

The qualitative research study in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hungary will provide research data from a wide spectrum of serving honorary consuls, supporting the basis of the thesis, and allowing for further insight into key reforms to the honorary consul model. The complete study is provided in the annex of this paper. The research data collected for this thesis provides insight into the diverse range of individuals serving as honorary consuls.

This thesis examines the honorary consul model and the challenges on sovereign nations and foreign policy strategy when utilizing honorary consuls to support national mandates. It identifies the unconventional nature of the post and the wide spectrum of those appointed, their mandated role and the acceptance within the diplomatic community. This thesis sheds light on the unique nature of the institution and questions the need for reforms and a coherent strategy for their presence in modern diplomatic intercourse and function.

Ultimately, this thesis questions and challenges the diplomatic, legal and academic community regarding reforms and the potential requirement for standardized training and capacity programs, in order for the honorary consul model to ascend to a higher level of status and acceptance within the evolving diplomatic ecosystem of contemporary consular and interstate intercourse.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Print20 Dec 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jun 2020
Additional information

This research programme was carried out in
collaboration with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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