When is an honorary consul also an ambassador? The simple answer is when he serves as a goodwill ambassador, and that would be always. Career and honorary consuls represent a foreign nation in an official consular role but, unofficially, all can and should be goodwill ambassadors for the countries they represent.
Do you see how I emphasized countries? That’s because the nature of the whole consular institution is such that a consul, regardless of whether he is an honorary or career consul, is always an official representative of the foreign nation that appointed him to the position. While I’ve seen and met goodwill ambassadors for all kinds of good “causes” and organizations, I had never heard of a consul of any kind representing an international, non-nation entity. Not until recently, that is.
It seems Amnesty International has appointed three “honorary consuls” to be its spokespeople: Saúl Hernández, Gabriela Montero, and Peter Sís; all artists in their own rights. Why they didn’t get the title of Ambassador (or, Ambassador of Goodwill), I’ll never understand.
It seems more appropriate and part of common practice (remember Shirley Temple’s stint as Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR?) to give them the more distinguished title of Ambassador of Goodwill. That’s what the general public would understand and that’s what they ultimately are.
Will they be introduced as “(name), Honorary Consul of AI”? As readers of my book know, I generally advise against adding the “honorary” part to consular introductions, because an honorary consul is as much of an official representative of a foreign country (note the italics again) as a career consul. I also speak from personal experience when I say “honorary” means little to the general public, while “goodwill ambassador” is understood by all.