Administrative consul

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Under certain historical circumstances, a major power's consular representation would take on various degrees of administrative roles, not unlike a colonial Resident Minister. This would often occur in territories without a formal state government (thus warranting a full diplomatic mission, such as an embassy) or in relatively insignificant "backwaters."


When a state falls under the "amical" protection of a stronger (often colonial) power, the latter is usually represented by a high ranking diplomatic and/or gubernatorial officer, such as a Resident general, Resident Minister or High Commissioner. However, if there is no such representation (in modern terms often at ambassadorial level), the task may fall to the only available "diplomatic" alternative: consular representation.

  • in the German West African Kamerun, 6 July 1884 – 26 June 1885, provisional consul Heinrich Randad filled the void between the first Reichskommissar (titled—for West Africa, 5–6 July 1884 only) and the subsequent series of regular incumbents
  • In parts of present Nigeria, British Consuls were in charge of the following West African protectorates:
  • From 7 November 1889, Samoa, previously a Polynesian kingdom, was governed by the joint German-British-U.S. Samoa Tripartite Convention, which made Samoa a protectorate of those three powers. On 10 June 1899, a provisional (colonial) government sui generis was formed, consisting of the consuls of the three protecting powers:
    • Friedrich Rose (German Consul) (b. 1855–d. 1922)
    • Ernest George Berkeley Maxse (British Consul) (b. 1863–d. 1943): to 23 June 1899, succeeded by a Mister Nair (acting British consul)
    • Luther Wood Osborn (U.S. Consul) (b. 1843–d. 1901).

This arrangement lasted until 1 March 1900, when the archipelago was annexed by imperial Germany, with the exception of the eastern islands, which remained under U.S. control and became the territory of American Samoa).

  • On Tonga, a British protectorate since 1900, the British Empire was only represented by its consuls from 1901 until Tongan independence in 1970. From 1901 until 1952, the protectorate was also under the administrative authority of the High Commissioner of the British Western Pacific Territories (always the British Governor of Fiji).

Occupied territories under similar control[edit]

  • In the Suez Canal Zone, even before it was officially established under that name in 1936 (from then on with a formal Governor in charge), the British were represented since 1922 by Vice Consuls in Port Suez, the last of which stayed on in 1941 as first of several Consuls till the 1956 Egyptian nationalisation.
  • From December 1941 to August 1945, Japanese troops invaded the Portuguese colony of Macau several times, giving the Japanese control over the access of people and goods. This made it by 1943 a virtual protectorate, with Japanese consul Fukui Yasumitsu controlling all contact until 1945 with the Portuguese governor, Gabriel Maurício Teixeira.

Similar functions have been performed elsewhere by consular officers of other ranks: Consular Agent, Honorary Consul and Consul general.

U.S. military personnel[edit]

Certain U.S. military personnel also have statutory authority to act as consuls for military administration purposes,[1] more broadly for military personnel and dependents,[2] and for merchant seamen in a port lacking an accredited U.S. consul.[3] In order to perform their functions to the best of their ability, Honorary (Vice) Consuls (General) are afforded by their commissioning countries a military-equivalent rank. Thus Honorary Consular Officers rank immediately after Naval Lieutenants/Captains/Flight Lieutenants, Honorary Vice Consuls after Lieutenant Commanders/Majors/Squadron Leaders, Honorary Consuls after Naval Captains/Colonels/Group Captains & Honorary Consuls General after Rear Admirals/Major Generals/Air Vice Marshals. This is done in order to "cut to the chase", i.e. in a sensitive situation to get the Consul (of whatever rank) to someone with whom he/she can negotiate with confidence.


  1. ^ Title 10 U.S.C. § 936
  2. ^ Title 10 U.S.C. § 1044a
  3. ^ Title 10 U.S.C. § 5948