Legal Background

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (or VCC), a multilateral treaty completed in 1963, is the legal instrument that codifies the consular practices that developed through customary international law, numerous bilateral treaties, and a number of regional treaties.

The VCCR enumerates basic legal rights and duties of signatory States, including:

  • The establishment and conduct of consular relations, by mutual consent
  • The privileges and immunities of consular officers and offices from the laws of the “receiving State” (the country where the foreign consular office has been established).

Consular Functions:

  1. Protecting in the receiving State (USA) the interests of the sending State (Lebanon) and of its nationals, both individuals and corporations, within the limits permitted by international law;
  2. Furthering the development of commercial, economic, cultural and scientific relations between the sending State and the receiving State and otherwise promoting friendly relations between them;
  3. Helping and assisting nationals, both individuals and bodies corporate, of the sending State;
  4. Acting as notary and civil registrar, and in capacities of a similar kind, and performing certain functions of an administrative nature, provided that there is nothing contrary thereto in the laws and regulations of the receiving State;
  5. Issuing passports and travel documents to nationals of the sending State, and visas or appropriate documents to persons wishing to travel to the sending State;
  6. Safeguarding, within the limits imposed by the laws and regulations of the receiving State, the interests of minors and other persons lacking full capacity who are nationals of the sending State, particularly where any guardianship or trusteeship is required with respect to such persons;
  7. Subject to the practices and procedures obtaining in the receiving State, representing or arranging appropriate representation for nationals of the sending State before the tribunals and other authorities of the receiving State, for the purpose of obtaining, in accordance with the laws and regulations of the receiving State, provisional measures for the preservation of the rights and interests of these nationals, where, because of absence or any other reason, such nationals are unable at the proper time to assume the defense of their rights and interests;
  8. Transmitting judicial and extrajudicial documents or executing letters or commissions to take evidence for the courts of the sending State in accordance with international agreements in force or, in the absence of such international agreements, in any other manner compatible with the laws and regulations of the receiving State.