Consular work, or the ‘Cinderella Service’, has traditionally been a relatively neglected area in most foreign ministries.
Recent trends have however reshaped the way foreign ministries think about this function which is sometimes considered mundane and routine. The new interest in consular issues is largely attributed to increased international travel, migration and integration in an increasingly borderless world.
In this talk at ted.com by Parag Khanna, he illustrates how the world is in fact built around physical resources rather than sovereign states, with concentrations of people living close to those resources. Through consular work, foreign ministries attempt to reach and provide services to nationals scattered around this borderless reality.
A recent paper by Maaike Okano-Heijmans explores the emerging field of ‘consular diplomacy’ in international relations. Consular services comprises of two primary functions: Protection of nationals abroad during emergencies and providing documentary services to them. Both these services offer potential opportunities for e-diplomacy.
The next set of blogs will explore how foreign ministries around the world are getting ‘makeovers’ using online consular services.