Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 11, 2022

Newsline: Governments Call for Reforms to Centuries-Old Honorary Consul System

Authorities in four countries are pressing to correct breakdowns in a troubled system of global diplomacy that has elevated and protected accused terrorist financiers, violent criminals, sanctioned oligarchs and aides to some of the world’s most corrupt regimes. The “Shadow Diplomats” investigation, published by ProPublica, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 50 international media organizations, chronicled widespread exploitation by honorary consuls and the failure of governments to provide oversight. (https://www.propublica.org/article/honorary-consuls-shadow-diplomatic-immunity-reforms) Thousands of the volunteer diplomats are in place worldwide, working from their home countries to represent the interests of the foreign nations that appoint them. In exchange, under international treaty, consuls receive a coveted series of legal protections and privileges, which can include diplomatic credentials, special license plates and the ability to move consular bags across borders without inspection. The investigation found at least 500 current and former consuls who have been accused of crimes or embroiled in controversy — the majority while they held their posts. That includes scores of consuls who reportedly tried to use their status to advance illicit activity or evade law enforcement. Germany and Austria have already dismissed an honorary consul in Brazil who had been criticized by a judge in 2015 for misusing her consular status in a controversial land deal. The consul and her family denied wrongdoing. In Switzerland, the honorary consul for Mongolia announced his resignation in October, one day after reporters asked government officials about his prior conviction for tax evasion. The consul declined to respond to a request for comment. The threat of shadow diplomacy has also alarmed experts in the United States. ProPublica and ICIJ identified nine current and former honorary consuls who have been linked to terrorist groups by law enforcement and governments. Most were tied to Hezbollah, the political party, social services provider and militant group in Lebanon designated by the United States and other countries as a terrorist organization.

Newsline: Peru summons Mexican ambassador

The Mexican ambassador in Lima has been summoned by Peru’s foreign ministry on complaints Mexico is interfering in its internal affairs, after top officials weighed in on the ouster earlier this week of Peru’s former President Pedro Castillo. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard later said that Castillo requested for asylum, and Mexican President Lopez Obrador criticized Peruvian elites, calling for the protection of the ousted president’s human rights. Lopez Obrado also said he had directed Ambassador Pablo Monroy to “open the embassy’s door” to Castillo. Monroy reportedly met with Castillo on Thursday. A statement from Peru’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the “comments made by the Mexican authorities are an interference in Peru’s internal matters and do not reflect the events in recent days.” It added that the “comments made by these (Mexican) authorities about the right of asylum requested by former President Castillo, (we) informed Ambassador Monroy the need for states to follow all regulation established in current international treaties and to comply with all requirements.” (https://lite.cnn.com/en/article/h_4cb7233afd16a30c33aa2f2755b13439) Castillo, who was removed from power on Wednesday after he attempted to dissolve Peru’s Congress and call for new elections, was arrested while allegedly traveling to the Mexican Embassy, according to Peruvian prosecutors. Castillo is currently under a seven-day preliminary arrest ordered by the Supreme Court on Thursday. His arrest marks a humiliating downturn in Castillo’s short political career. The former schoolteacher and union leader rose from obscurity to be elected in July 2021 by a narrow margin in a runoff.

Newsline: Senior U.S. delegation to visit China in coming days

A high-level U.S. delegation will travel to China next week to follow up on President Joe Biden’s recent talks with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and prepare for Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit there early next year, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday. The U.S. announcement follows comments by a senior White House official that China wants stabilized relations with the United States in the short term as it faces domestic economic challenges and pushback in Asia to its assertive diplomacy. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Laura Rosenberger will travel to China, South Korea and Japan from December 11-14, the State Department said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/senior-us-delegation-visit-china-coming-days-2022-12-10/) U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping engaged in blunt talks over Taiwan and North Korea on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia in mid-November, a meeting aimed at preventing strained U.S.-China ties from spilling into a new Cold War. The State Department said the delegation will follow up on the meeting “to continue responsibly managing the competition between our two countries and to explore potential areas of cooperation” and will also lay the groundwork for Blinken’s visit.