Chapter 11 Consular Diplomacy in the Era of Growing Mobility

In: Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the World
Jan Melissen
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This analysis discusses the first hurdle for consular diplomacy in the digital age: the communicative challenge. Providing information and assistance to nationals abroad is a major challenge, and governments are well advised to go about this activity in a more citizen-centric fashion. It is therefore important for ministries of foreign affairs (MFA s) to acquire a deeper understanding of their nationals’ communicative behaviour. Greater control in a fragmented, digital communication environment is required and implies the co-ordination of offline and online channels. Framing consular services in market terms and identifying citizens as customers, however, would go against government interests. MFA s would do well to view consular assistance as part of their growing diplomatic engagement with domestic society. This analysis of policy and practice suggests that there are good reasons to articulate existing links between consular assistance and wider foreign and security policy, rather than seeing ‘consular’ work as a self-contained activity.

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