Honorary Consuls: Viet Nam's special foreign service force abroad

17/11/2021| 12:59

Making a substantial contribution to aspects of individual bilateral relationships, Honorary Consuls become a special foreign service of Viet Nam abroad.

Honorary Consuls: Viet Nam's special foreign service force abroadDeputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung and Director General Nguyen Thi Huong Lan at the 1st Conference on Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls overseas on October 14, 2021. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

On January 8, 1994, Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam signed a decision to promulgate the Regulation on Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls abroad. On January 18, 1994, the Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed the first Viet Nam's Honorary Consul in Lebanon.

Over the years, Viet Nam has appointed many Honorary Consuls across all continents to meet the need to successfully implement the foreign policy of the Party and the State, as well as effectively protect Vietnamese citizens.

Since 1994, Viet Nam has appointed 44 Honorary Consuls in different countries. Currently, there are 31 Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls overseas and more than 10 candidates for this position abroad.

In 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued Circular 01/2020/TT-BNG on Honorary Consular Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to replace the Regulation on Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls overseas (1994).

The 13th Party Congress determined that the diplomatic service has an important task, which is to "continue to promote the pioneering role in creating and preserving a peaceful and stable environment, and mobilizing external resources for the course of national building, and in enhancing the country's status and prestige.”

New guidelines for Viet Nam's diplomatic service lead to new requirements to promote an effective and well-managed network of Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls overseas.

This became a dynamic behind the Ministry of Foreign Affairs's first conference of Honorary Consuls of Viet Nam abroad in both virtual and in-person forms on October 14 with about 150 connection points.

Under the chair of Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung, the event was held to assess the work of Honorary Consuls over the recent past and define the directions for expanding the network of Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls overseas as well as enhancing the network’s operation effectiveness in the time ahead.

Speaking at the event, Director General of the Consular Department Nguyen Thi Huong Lan assessed, Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls in foreign countries have been performed their duties effectively with many achievements, serving practically to the country's major foreign orientations as a special foreign force of Viet Nam abroad. 

Notably, some outstanding Honorary Consuls overseas have been awarded with the Friendship Order of the Vietnamese State such as Honorary Consuls in Busan (South Korea), Gwangju (South Korea), and Anvers (Belgium).

In accordance with international practice, Honorary Consuls do not receive any regular payment or salary for their work.

There are some main tasks of Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls. Firstly, promote bilateral cooperation between Viet Nam and the host countries in the fields of economy, trade, investment, tourism, culture, etc.

Secondly, provide information and support activities of Vietnamese representative missions and Vietnamese working delegations in their consular areas.

Thirdly, assist and protect Vietnamese citizens and legal entities in their consular jurisdiction.

Fourthly, promote the image of Viet Nam in the host country through organizing events, seminars, teaching Vietnamese, publishing books/publications about Viet Nam...

Honorary Consuls: Viet Nam's special foreign service force abroadViet Nam's Honorary Consuls aboard attend the event. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

In order to maintain and increase Honorary Consuls' operational efficiency in the coming time, Director Nguyen Thi Huong Lan proposed a number of recommendations.

Firstly, build the Plan to develop the network of Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls abroad from 2021 to 2025 with a vision to 2030 as a foundation for expanding and improving the honorary consuls network.

Secondly, complete the legal policy related to Honorary Consuls. The Consular Department will coordinate with representative missions to regularly review regulations and study international experiences in order to deal with problems in the implementation process, ensuring compliance with reality, facilitating the appointment of Honorary Consuls. In the long term, the Law on Overseas-based Representative Missions also needs to have some separate provisions on Honorary Consulates headed by Honorary Consuls.

Thirdly, focus on finding a suitable candidate for the position of an Honorary Consul, especially people of good standing in the local community with a strong network of local contacts. At present, the business community has the financial ability to promote development cooperation and citizen protection.

Fourthly, strengthen the monitoring of activities of Viet Nam's Honorary Consuls abroad in line with reality. Based on Honorary Consuls' aspirations and performance, along with the representative missions' assessment and recommendations, the Consular Department will coordinate with the Ministry' relevant units to consider and propose solutions related to the Honorary Consuls' appointment process.

Fifthly, organize forums, seminars and conferences to exchange views and experiences, improve the performance of Honorary Consuls and promote cooperation between Viet Nam and locals within their consular jurisdiction.

Sixth, increase activities to promote Viet Nam to Honorary Consuls, help them understand more about Vietnamese culture, country and people.

Seventh, timely reward and motivate Honorary Consuls with outstanding achievements in order to praise, spread and further promote the activities of Honorary Consuls in the coming time./.