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385

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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PART XIII.

A Plea for Consular Conventions.

[1]



As a result of the ever-rising tide of international trade, commerce,
finance, and other business relations, the need for a closer
understanding between local authorities and foreign Consular Officers is constantly
growing. In the present state of civilisation and culture each nationality
is more and more merging its individuality in the universal life of
civilised mankind. This tendency towards the development of
international intercourse has enhanced the importance of the Consular
service. Only a hundred years ago nearly all Consular Officers were
honorary, not State, officials, while, at the present time, the Great
Powers are served, at the important centres of commerce and navigation,
by professional Consuls the range of whose duties is as great as it is
varied.

Legal Status of Consuls.

The growing complexity and importance of Consular duties has
made it necessary to define the legal status of Consular Officers at
their place of residence and to regulate their mutual relations with
the local authorities in a more explicit and precise form than is done
by the " Exequatur"—the ordinary form of recognition of the official
character of the Consular Officer by the local Government. On the
Continent this has been arranged in a satisfactory manner by a series
of treaties concluded for the purpose of assuring to Consular Officers
a satisfactory legal position, which enables them to transact their
public business with due efficiency. Great Britain alone has lagged
behind in this movement and has, up to the present, left the Consular
status and the definition of the competency of foreign Consuls in the
British Empire in a position which no longer satisfies the modern
requirements of international intercourse. To instance Russia, the
whole range of the duties of Russian Consular Officers in Great Britain
is regulated solely[2] by the provisions of the Treaty of Commerce and
Navigation concluded on 12th January 1859. under which the Consuls
of the two contracting Powers enjoy the " powers and privileges,
exemptions and immunities of the Consuls of the most-favoured
nations." This most-favoured nation clause enables British Consular
Officers in Russia to enjoy all the rights and privileges accorded by
Russia in the Consular Conventions concluded by her with France
on 1st April 1874, with Germany on 8th December 1874, with Italy on
28th April 1875, and with Spain on 23rd February 1876, while in
„England this clause has hardly any practical importance whatever for

[1] By kind permission, reprinted from the Journal of the Society of
Comparative Legislation, London, October 1913, contributed by the author.
[2] With the exception of the declaration agreed upon in London, 9th August
1880, by Great Britain and Russia about estate left by sailors on board ships of
their nationality.

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