Acceptance Speech and Visions of Change – Arnold Foote, President, FICAC

June 17, 2015 | News

President of FICAC Arnold Foote

Spoken on the Election of Arnold Foote as the New President of FICAC at Montego Bay, Jamaica on November 7th. 2006

” FELLOW MEMBERS OF FICAC

” DISTINGUISHED GUESTS

The leadership of an international organization in the modern era is a unique opportunity to make an impact on the world in which we live.

Change affects us all.

All organizations must, to a greater or lesser degree, react to change.

Within FICAC it is time….it is time to change the centres of influence to be more inclusive towards Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Even our Constitution speaks about “equitable geographic representation” as being a desirable goal.

You have paid me a great honour in your support for my Presidency of this organization, which can be a force for quality and value in the complex world we inhabit together.

I accept that honour in my own right, and on behalf of the country in which I happened to have been born, Jamaica, and the Consular Corps that I have been leading.

I thank the members of that Corps for their journey with me.

I am a man of action… of positive action…and I believe in hard work and initiative. I maintain that this is exactly what FICAC needs at this time.

FICAC needs to be led from the front. That would be my intention.

I envisage the renewal of the organization incorporating the thoughts and talents of Deans and Corps from the four corners of the earth.

I want FICAC to be responsive to the differing needs of our members and to restore the membership of those countries who may have left because of perceived and actual disenchantment, and to reach out to others. In other words we need to rebuild the membership and collaborate with other regional groups.

To those of you that doubt the capacity of this new administration, I hope that time will prove that we are up to the task.

The Dahlman led administration cannot have satisfied the membership that we have worked on their behalf. There is not sufficient proof of tangible results.

In this globalized world it is necessary that we educate ourselves and be educated as to our changing roles. We need constantly to upgrade our skills. To that end arrangements were initiated with the prestigious Centre d”Etudes Diplomatiques and Strategique in Paris- a leading international relations organization. We had an excellent pilot programme in Jamaica and 38 Consuls and 5 members of the staff of the Foreign Ministry got diplomas. Training is a component in my vision.
The Centre has offered to duplicate this programme in any member country, having regard to the cultural norms and special requirements of each country. We also have found that recognizing formally the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs builds co-operation and effectiveness. I commend that to you in your individual countries.

I hope that it is not immodest to mention some of the work of the Public Relations Committee that I have had the honour to lead which was unintentionally left out of the report of the acting President.

For example:

  • A new FICAC logo was created by my son’s company
  • A new Flag
  • A new FICAC newsletter which has been underutilized and not effectively distributed
  • To say nothing of the FICAC Star

This latter was created as our highest honour to recognize the worth of persons who have contributed significantly to international relations. The concept was to use this as a vehicle for creating international credibility and promote recognition of our work and those Prominent World Citizens who support and enhance it. The first such was the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, and his acceptance has given this award international recognition.

Also I initiated the Awards of Excellence and of Merit for service to the organization itself. 5 were awarded last night.

The successful negotiation of the arrangements with British Airways, the Langham Hotel group, and Air Jamaica for this conference, were done by me. It would be my intention to increase those types of tangible benefits for the membership.

Part of life is leisure and so I would also try to encourage those occasions that build friendships and regard as we go about our busy lives. I would try to widen the opportunities that our members have for travel and accommodation in various regions of the world.

In that regard I would wish to peruse the Identification Card project with Wilhelm Brouwer, and possibly forge agreements with other commercial entities that would give discounts and incentives to members of FICAC. To that end accurate information as to the names and contact information of the members of your respective Corps is central to this process. Please make this an urgent priority on your return to your individual countries.

The Website was taken away from me and was put in the care of Mr. Dahlman and became virtually dormant.After multiple complaints it has recently been returned to me and has, in the interim, been used to direct persons to the website for this 8th. World Congress. I will be upgrading it as soon as possible and request each and every one of you to send information, news and photographs from your individual Corps for inclusion in the information on the website. It will be used as a tool for communication and news as a way to reach out to our membership and try to increase it. If there are incentives for membership and proper patterns of communication then the membership will grow. It is a critical tool which I pledge to use for maximum effect.

Another critical area that needs development is the Meeting of Deans. This would give stronger team spirit and greater trust. It would also serve to give better feedback on issues specific to their regions.

I would use the occasion of the quarterly meetings of the Executive to involve the regional Deans so that we can build cohesion, commitment and effectiveness. There is no point in members of the ExCo spending their personal resources to meet in different cities around the world and to talk only to ourselves! In the west we call that “preaching to the choir.”

In that process our new administration would explore on a country and country and regional basis the issues that concern those individual Consular Corps or groups of Corps and try to address them via the various Ministries of Foreign Affairs and, where necessary, strive for official change in the international systems that control our work.

Then I propose that we strive for closer associations with the Diplomatic Corps of the world as we have successfully attempted in Jamaica. Our work is not mutually exclusive.

I think that this would strengthen our hand to approach Foreign Ministries one by one to service those needs and improve any benefit to which we may be entitled, or could negotiate.

I want to review the whole basis of application and acceptance of membership to make the process friendlier for associations, and, as suggested today, individuals, so that the growth of such membership will be an important element in the growth of the organization. At present the Constitution only allows for provisional membership and it takes three years for confirmation. This should be reviewed with a view to a change.

IN SUMMARY

The purpose of the programmes that I propose are to:

  1. Project FICAC as an international organization that works for Consuls worldwide.
  2. To project a positive image of the Directors of FICAC.
  3. To start an international membership drive and to increase awareness of all the benefits that they are entitled to from the organization.
  4. To develop an international PR programme with a strong humanitarian element which is on going and worthwhile and can create international interest and cooperation. I had proposed, and it had been approved, that we could link with the Mandela Foundation to assist underprivileged children with Aids.

Outreach to the community will build trust. I think this unique Federation can begin a change to position ourselves in the minds of peoples and communities that we do care about them and convert caring into action.

I would strive to build unity among the Executive and to be fair, transparent and inclusive in my dealings. I think that this has been a point of deficit in the last administration of FICAC and can be prevented, or at least reduced considerably in the future. It is natural that there are times that we will have to agree to disagree, but we have to build a better atmosphere of mutual respect.

I am grateful to those members of the ExCo who have worked in the past, and look forward to their future and continuing commitment.

I pause to thank your families and staff, and mine, for allowing us the time and giving us the support for our work and our absences from home and from office in the work of the Federation.

The purpose of the Executive is to SERVE the membership and not to dictate to them. I will serve to the best of my ability at all times.

I will bring managerial and marketing skills to the table and do my best to try to unite us in our mission. This could be of great benefit to us in many ways including lobbying, and lobbying for, our respective Governments, developing trade and cultural exchanges programmes. I would also value and welcome suggestions and criticisms from you.

There is a lot we can do together as you have given me the opportunity by entrusting me with the leadership of FICAC at this time.

And so, it is with joy that I commence my tasks as the new President of FICAC.

Though I live on an island, I will not be insular.

My ultimate dream is to make the words of our title come alive and to rebuild
A TRUE WORLD FEDERATION OF CONSULS

I approach that task, grateful for your support, and deeply conscious of both the honour and the responsibility in the passing of the torch to me. My administration will strive to keep the flame burning brightly.

Thank you very much.

One Love. One Heart.