Understanding a Consular Corps
As I say in the book The Foreign Consuls Among Us: Local Bridges to Globalism, a consular corps is a body in and of itself and it does not require a separate action (like a vote by members). Interestingly, legislative history and the literature doesn’t even support the term [consular] “corps.” When delegates met in Vienna in 1963 to adopt an international treaty on consular relations, they did indeed debate the inclusion of a corps but, just as two years earlier when the diplomatic convention had rejected references to a diplomatic corps, “consular corps” doesn’t appear anywhere in the formally adopted document.
Few groups suffer from as much misunderstanding as any local corps of consuls, and it begins with the fact that it is not a “corpse” with a hard p, regardless of how many times the term is misspelled and mispronounced. During my ten years as part of an informal leadership trio with the long-time Dean and Treasurer, and as Secretary of the Consular Corps of Miami, we were constantly scratching our heads over the desire of some members to incorporate under Florida State law.
When I first became a member of the Consular Corps of Miami, there was much internal talk about consuls gone before me and the constant changes taking place among local personnel as consuls were transferred out of the area, passed away, or retired. It seemed everyone had a story to share, and even the print media got into the action with its often-sensationalized claims that consuls did little more than attended cocktail parties to rub elbows with the local socialites and intelligentsia. Celebrating Taiwan’s national holiday with the Director General and his wife.
There was no telling how long ago the consular corps had “arrived” in Miami. Mostly, the 1950s was mentioned but nobody was quite certain. One local obituary even said the deceased had been instrumental in “founding” the corps (in the 60s).When I set out to conduct research on the roots of the Consular Corps of Miami…Read MoreExpand
I immediately faced the challenges of repeatedly incorrect terminology in the printed material with its general misunderstandings of the consular role. Eventually, my hard work resulted in a piece published in Tequesta (Nr. LXXVII, Dec. 2017), the journal of the History Miami Museum: A Corps of Foreign Consuls: Looking at its Miami Roots. https://www.historymiami.org
Even though the focus is on Miami, you’ll see how history plays its own tricks on all of us – regardless of what consular corps is of interest to you – if we don’t use an exact definition of the meaning of the term “consular corps.”