Consul is a concept linked to politics and administration. At present the most frequent use of the term appears in diplomatic relations, since the consul is the person authorized by a State to protect its citizens in a foreign country.
The consul, therefore, is a foreign service official who is dedicated to assisting the people of the country of origin in a foreign territory. The processing and legalization of documents, the delivery of powers or certificates, the renewal of passports, the defense of citizens and the tourist, cultural and economic promotion of the nation are part of the activities that must be carried out.
Among the functions of the consul stand out those of a notarial nature to give public faith and those related to certified translation (since the consul is also an expert translator).
In the diplomatic hierarchy, one can speak of different positions linked to a consulate, such as the consul general, the deputy consul general, the deputy consul, the honorary consul or the vice consul.
It is believed that this need to have a representative of one’s own country in foreign territory arose during the Crusades; when Italians who had emigrated to other lands found that the treatment they received there was not satisfactory for them.
For all this, they believed necessary the establishment of an institution that would be in charge of mediating between both countries and that could ensure their rights. In this way they could not only defend their trade, but also ensure that their culture was respected in other regions.
From then on, all of Europe implemented the International Law Treaty, where it was recorded that a representative of each country had to meet with the authorities of the visited country and propose a series of requirements that had to be met and respected so that their compatriots could carry a good life. Since the thirteenth century, the right to send consuls to other countries is one more that is protected by those non-governmental and neutral institutions that seek to safeguard peace and good relations between the different nations that make up the world.
In its beginnings, the consul simply had to look after the commercial interests between nations, but later these tasks were extended to the protection of all matters related to the life and development of its citizens in foreign lands.
Uses of the concept in different historical periods
Throughout history the concept has changed; so much so that today the tasks and obligations of these representatives differ considerably from those they were supposed to carry out in other times. Among the use of the concept and the way of understanding this work, two stand out:
In Ancient Rome, the consul was the highest-ranking magistrate in the Republic. His position was collegiate and annual, being elected by citizens over 42 years of age. The consul was in charge of directing the army and the State in general.
After the coup of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799, the institution of government that took effect in France was the Consulate. Until 1804, the consuls and top leaders of the country were Napoleon, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, Roger Ducos, Jacques Régis de Cambacérès and Charles-François Lebrun. From that year on, Bonaparte was appointed emperor.
It is worth mentioning that there is also an insect discovered by Pieter Cramer that has an almost identical name. Consul (with accentuation on the last syllable so it should not have an accent) is an insect of the Nymphalidae family that belongs to the Lepidoptera genus. It lives in the south of America and South America and includes four species in its family, of which the Consul fabios is the best known.