Declaration of São Paulo


  The participants in the 1st Brazilian Consular Congress, congregated in the city of São Paulo, during the 7th and 8th of May of 2007, convoked by the Association of Consuls in Brazil - ACONBRAS and by the Consular Corps of Brazil - CCB, agree to express the following comments and opinions:

1) The Ministry of External Relations of Brazil is an honor for the Nation, integrated by highly prepared diplomats, having an excellent national and international reputation.

2) The career and honorary Consuls General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, as well as the Consular Attachés, will to highly collaborate to the reaching of the full possibilities of relations between Brazil and the countries they represent, especially in the cultural and commercial fields.

3) Considering this objective, and regarding the fast conditions and resources changes nowadays, they express their longings for the best work conditions possible, in all its aspects, according to the actual effective norms and especially according to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
4) The participants in the Congress know that the mentioned Convention was signed and sanctioned by each state party, presupposing their full sovereignty. The participants also know that the states parties, sovereignly, are able to apply interpretation and execution variations for each point agreed in the International Pact.
5) The participants in the Congress believe that the purpose of the privileges and immunities defined in the referred Convention and in other legal instruments is to optimize the legitimate actions of each consular officer, and not to contribute for the creation of a privileged caste, in an obsolete elitist position.
6) From this point of view, they recognize that the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations does not mention the expression “Consulate” but always “Consular Post”.

7) They also recognize that the Convention appropriately distinguishes the Career Consular Officers from the Honorary Consular Officers (in all different levels), acknowledging privileges and immunities for both mentioned types, which are identical in some points and different in others.

8) The participants in the Congress express their satisfaction over the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil, which explicitly recognizes the privileges and immunities of the Consuls General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, in honorary conditions, during the execution of their duties, by writing on their Consular Identification Cards the following words: "The privileges and immunities pointed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations are safeguarded for honorary consular officers during the exercise of their functions…". Obviously, you can only safeguard something that exists and, in this case, the recognition of existence regards the privileges and immunities of honorary consular officers.

9) It is opportune to stand out that once the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations does not distinguish the Career Consular Post from the Honorary Consular Post, referring only to the term “Consular Post”, defining their characteristics, functions and limitations during the introductory definitions, it is a consensus that we can recommend to the members of the many consular associations in Brazil to use the expressions “Consular Post” and “Consulate” without adding the word “honorary” when headed by an honorary consular officer; recognizing, on the other hand, that considering the sovereignty of the signatories of the mentioned Convention, their Ministries of Foreign Affairs can legitimately call “Honorary Consulates” those Consular Posts headed by an honorary consular officer, which is the case of several States; we can also request, respectfully, to those who have access to this present text and execute diplomatic functions, to consider the possibility of, whenever they find convenient, stop adding the limiting term "honorary" to refer to the Consulates General, Consulates, Vice-Consulates and Consular Agencies headed by honorary consular officers.

10) Considering the limitations of human beings, the participants in the Congress recognize that any person under official incumbencies (civil servants, military officers, career or honorary consuls, etc.) can, rarely or frequently, commit voluntary or involuntary mistakes. Recognize as well that laws, regulations, decrees and other equivalent documents must be written and executed to deal with what is frequent and often, and not with the exceptions, avoiding (whenever the human being’s limitations allow) to establish legislations and regulations to prevent the exceptions, which are rare and inevitable.
History has been demonstrating, especially in dictatorships, that the rigidity in establishing restrictions and limitations does not prevent the exceptions they intend to hinder. As a matter of fact, they contribute with some procedures that gratuitously cause the disqualification of certain categories, transforming their members into presumed suspects, discouraging their permanence and the calm and efficient execution of their functions, with no practical advantages and quite often developing an unprofitable, unfruitful and unfunctional environment for human relationships.

11) Considering the highly democratic and respectful environment promoted by the current Federal Government of Brazil, the participants in the Congress expect  improved connections and more productive contacts between the directors of legal Consular Societies and the Ministerial Authorities, especially His Excellency the Minister of External Relations, as well as the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Relations, not meaning, however, that the Consuls should directly contact the diplomatic authorities, instead of making use of the necessary and essential mediation of their respective Embassies.
With this objective they express their longing of a possible hearing with His Excelency the Minister of External Relations of Brazil, with date and format to be defined by the Brazilian Authorities, granted to Presidents or Deans of consular institutions, forming a limited commission of five or six members, with career and honorary officers together, following a guideline previously approved.

12) The participants in the congress verify that the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, does not use neither the word “Dean” nor the expression “Consular Corps“, in any part of its text. Therefore, it is not correct to say that the mentioned Convention regulates the organization, functioning and election of the Dean of the consular officer groups, present in many cities. The precedence defined in the Convention uniquely establishes the precedence criteria that can or not, depending on free decision of consular officers, be used as criteria for the selection of the head of a group of consuls, during the actual democratic days, where members of groups of various sizes are considered the source of power, autonomy or sovereignty, are able or to elect the Dean or the President of a Consular Corps, or  to freely and democratically define, without external interferences, that the incumbency will necessarily follow a protocol of precedence.
For instance, there are cities in many countries where the chairmen of consular corps (sometimes called “Dean” and other times called “President”) are elected, being a Career or an Honorary Consular Officer, being Consul General or not, having the oldest Exequatur or not, according to the criteria freely agreed by the members of the various consular corps.

13) Finally, the participants in the Congress consider as a legitimate subject the grant of special license plates for the vehicles owned by Honorary Consular Officers, believing that such special plates would mean, in an eloquent nonverbal language, that those people are considered respectable and responsible for high value functions, as used to mean the verbal expression of the old Consular Cards granted to the Honorary Consuls, asking the authorities to give all the support requested by the card holders, and to allow them the access to ships anchored by the coast.
Moreover, such identification would have a special utility for the Honorary Consular Officers while receiving authorities from the countries they represent, at the airports or other circumstances.
The remote possibility of abuse, as an exception, of such special plates, should not be a reason for excesses of care and restriction, since it is undeniable that such kind of abuse, as an exception, can always occur, with any type of officer from any level, category or sector.
For instance, it is convenient to elucidate that the use of the expression "special plates" instead of "consular plates" allows the distintion between both of them. The consular plates, granted by the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil to the Career Consuls, should necessarily be different from the special plates, regarding the particular conditions of each case, although it does not seem to be useful to over emphasize the term "honorary", because it could express, in an implicit way, the inexistent intention of warning: "Careful, suspicious person, potentially dangerous and not trustful".

14) The participants in the Congress, career or honorary officers, who approve and sign this Declaration, make use of this opportunity to present their highest compliments to the authorities, to the Brazilians in general and to the Peoples they represent.

            

São Paulo, May 8th, 2007.

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