The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF CONSULS

283. Definition . -- Consuls are official agents sent by a State to foreign ports and cities, mainly for the purpose of watching over and promoting the commercial and industrial interests of the appointing State and its citizens or subjects, and of protecting its nationals traveling or residing in these places.1

284. Classification . -- With reference to their character, modern consuls are usually said to be of two kinds: (1) Consuls missi, or professional consuls (consuls de carriére), who are not permitted to engage in any other business or profession. They are real public officials or functionaries of the sending State and enjoy full consular privileges and immunities. (2) Consuls electi,2 or commercial consuls, who are chosen by the appointing government, either from its own citizens engaged in business in the city or country in which they are permitted to exercise their functions, or from among the nationals of a foreign State (usually of the country in which they serve). They are of distinctly inferior competence and status, and do not enjoy full consular privileges and immunities.3

____________________
1
On the Mediæval Origin of the Consulate, see supra, No. 51, and note on pp. 58-59, for references.
2
This term is now a misnomer, since this class of consuls is also appointed by the sending State. They were formerly elected by foreign merchants themselves.
3
Some States (e.g. France, Great Britain, and the United States) do not, as a rule, appoint merchant or business consuls.

The United States has always preferred to appoint native American citizens, if properly qualified candidates for the position could be found. "No person who is not an American citizen shall be appointed hereafter in any consulategeneral or consulate to any clerical position the salary of which is one thousand dollars a year or more." Act of April 5, 1906, sec. 5. See 5 Moore, Digest, § 697, p. 12. This Act also abolished the grade of commercial agent.

All consular officers whose respective salaries exceed $1,000 a year are prohibited from transacting business, practicing or being interested in the practice of the law. They are even forbidden to invest money in business enterprises or real estate (except for their own use) in the country from the Government of

-416-

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