Consul of the Year 2022

The diplomatic community pays tribute to consuls for the aid they provided to citizens in crisis during the pandemic

After a pause of three years, the London consular corps gathered to recognise consuls who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist their nationals in need.

Out of a competitive field of regional winners, Robert Marin, the Consul General of Romania in London and Consul of the Year for Europe, was chosen as overall Consul of the Year for 2022 by his peers.

Mr Marin’s support to Romanian citizens was described by the judging panel as “sheer consular heroism” for his “high-volume response to multiple crises and challenges”.

In his acceptance speech, an emotional Mr Marin dedicated the award to his team at the Romanian Consulate and the network of volunteers that had rallied to assist 1700 humanitarian cases during the covid pandemic; provided assistance to stranded citizens during the Dover and Folkestone lorry driver crisis and then went on to tackle the post-covid ‘mountain of documents’ to enable Romanian citizens to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline.

In congratulating the winners, the Director of the Embassy Group Elizabeth Stewart said:
“Consular services is the humanitarian face of diplomacy. When nationals in a foreign country get into difficulty – whether they have lost a passport, lost a loved one, or lost their liberty – often their consulate is the only place they can turn to for help. In any given year, the assistance consuls provide their citizens matters, but during the covid pandemic, the help consuls were able to give their citizens was literally a matter of life and death.”

Regional Consuls of the Year for 2022 – from left: Tural Ismayilov (Asia), Donna Marie Kirk-Sergeant (Oceania), Robert Marin (Europe), Oula Khodr (Middle East), Tarcisio Costa (Americas), Chris Buckwell (Africa) and Natasha Mayers (Caribbean)

 

Regional winners
The regional winners were Christopher Buckwell, Honorary Consul for Sao Tome & Principe (Africa), Tural Ismayilov, Consul at the Embassy of Azerbaijan (Asia), Tarcisio Costa, Consul General of Brazil (Americas), Natasha Mayers, Consul at the Barbados High Commission (Caribbean), Oula Khodr, Consul at the Embassy of Lebanon (Middle East) and Donna Marie Kirk-Sergeant, Consular Adviser at the High Commission of Aotearoa New Zealand.

All nominees were recognised for their hard work, engagement with their diaspora communities and, in particular, their innovative solutions to the global consular emergency caused by the pandemic.

Presenting the Award to the Consul of the Year 2022 was Christa Rottensteiner, the Chief of Mission at the IOM, who described her organisation as the ‘solution provider’ for all issues related to human mobility and displacement, from border management to visa support, migrant assistance, refugee resettlement, anti-trafficking, movement monitoring, diaspora engagement, dignified return and reintegration support for stranded migrants.

In an impassioned address to consuls, she said: “Your diplomatic missions faced many challenges supporting their citizens in the past few years, and this ceremony represents a moment to recognise the great commitment of consuls to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their communities, especially the most vulnerable. IOM faces challenges that are similar yours, and we work closely with partners to uphold migrant rights.”

Speaking ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, she concluded: “I hope you will join IOM and many local organisations in these celebrations, to mark the positive contribution of migrants in the UK… I hope to that the UK will continue to be open, compassionate and treating migrants and refugees with dignity.”

Main Photo: Robert Marin, Romanian Consul General, receives the Consul of the Year Award for 2022 from IOM Chief of Mission Christa Rottensteiner