The 21st century is the century of high speeds, information technologies, and the Internet due to which the distance among the states has significantly reduced; people started to communicate with citizens of other societies and get acquainted with previously unfamiliar cultures and customs. In the context of globalization, consular collaboration acquires particular importance because it is meant to develop a great variety of international links and support the national ex-pats abroad. The more actively interstate relationships develop, the more intense and larger in scope the interpersonal and intercultural exchanges become, and the greater burden falls on consular services.
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In the 21st century, the demand for consular services “has exploded” as the current period of global development is associated with increased levels of migration, traveling, and education exchange (Haynal, Welsh, Century, and Tyler 3). When speaking of the United Arab Emirates, the Emirati diasporas are nowadays represented in almost every part of the world including North America, Oceania, Southeast Asia, and Europe (“The Info List” para. 2). Additionally, over 8.000 Emirati students leaving the country to study abroad every year (“United Arab Emirates’ Students Overseas” para. 1).
Consular relationships and services take a significant part in the lives of citizens who live abroad. The flexibility and responsiveness of consular service contribute to the protection of their legal interests, as well as the benefits of the business entities and organizations. For this reason, every UAE consulate located overseas has programs aimed to support the Emirati people throughout the course of their stay in the hosting states. For instance, Embassy of United Arab Emirates in Washington provides students with helpful information regarding scholarships, financial benefits, etc., and also retains personal, voluntarily provided information about them and use it to render prompt assistance in the event of an emergency (“For Students” para. 1).
As the number of citizens traveling overseas grows, “ensuring their assistance and protection in increasingly risky environments is a growing challenge” (Haynal et al. 4). Nowadays, we frequently witness the occurrence of new conflicts at both national and international levels, and it becomes more difficult for consulates to protect the ex-pats in dangerous environments. To perform their functions, respond to crisis situations, and prevent them in an efficient manner, consulates may harden their policies and procedures and strengthen relationships with other governmental agencies. For example, that was the case after the 9/11 terrorist attack in the USA when the consulate changed visa and passport formats and strengthened its dependence on the Department of Homeland Security (Hamilton 1).
Another significant challenge of consular service is the increased level of citizens’ expectations (Haynal et al. 4). Consulates are imposed with tremendous responsibility. They are praised in the press when the service is rendered well, and the capacity to rescue citizens is proven but, at the same time, they are harshly criticized for every mistake and failure to assist citizens. It is a common current trend provoked by the expansion of democratic social movements – people expect their needs to be met promptly and their interests to be always protected. Although democracy is mainly associated with Western societies, the rising citizens’ expectations affect all states (Haynal et al. 4).
To sum the information mentioned above, it is possible to say that consulates are responsible for the consolidation of friendly links between countries; maintenance of international economic, humanitarian, and cultural ties; and protection of citizens who stay overseas. To do so, along with the measures outlined in the previous paragraphs, consulates pursue the establishment of various partnerships with international/supranational institutions, states, and private organizations (Haynal et al. 8). While the first type of relationship is more relevant to Western societies, the second and the third type are pertinent for the case of the UAE as well. The country’s embassies around the globe cooperate with the states of their location to fulfill the general consular purposes and also make more specific and informal agreements. The areas of consular interstate collaboration given in the Vienna Convention are “crisis management, children and families (notably child abduction), diaspora support (including worker protection) and sharing of consular services” (Haynal et al. 8). The UAE consulate strives to perform all of these functions. For instance, consistently with the principles of consular collaboration, the UAE extended residency permits for refugees since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, and over 240.000 Syrian citizens currently live in the country (“Syrian Refugee Crisis” para. 1).
Historically, the UAE is actively involved in international relationships, and this involvement has contributed to the strengthening of national power. Such a position inevitably raises the issue of finding a balance between the number of commitments to the global society and the material resources required for the fulfillment of these obligations. Therefore, it is possible to say that the consolidation of links between the UAE’s foreign policy and its resource base should be a priority for the government and the consulate in particular. It is also important to make an accent on versatility because, in present-day situations, it has great significance. It means that while global society faces new threats and challenges, the only way to withstand them is collaboration. Thus, states should build peace and order based on cooperation. And it is possible to say that the development of this kind of cooperation is one of the current directions in the consular service of the UAE.
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Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. “For Students.” Embassy of the united Arab Emirates, Web.
“Syrian Refugee Crisis – UAE Contribution.” Embassy of the united Arab Emirates, Web.
Hamilton, Donna. “The Transformation of Consular Affairs: The United States Experience.” Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. 2009, Web.
Haynal, George, Michael Welsh, Louis Century, and Sean Tyler. “The Consular Function in the 21st Century: The Report for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.” Munk School of Global Affairs. 2013, Web.
“The Emirati Diaspora.” The Info List, Web.
“United Arab Emirates’ Students Overseas.” Project Atlas. 2016, Web.