Keywords: consular services, crisis coordination, emergency response, foreign ministries, intergovernmental cooperation, emergency management, government coordination, coordination relationships, disaster response, cooperation, Australia, Sweden, UK, United Kingdom, government role, consular response, consuls
Coping with consular emergencies: four key governmental coordination relationships
When a large number of foreign nationals are affected by a disaster while abroad, their respective governments face public and media pressure to assist their citizens. For governments to evacuate citizens, locate missing, assist injured, support relatives or identify and repatriate the deceased, the foreign ministry must coordinate its personnel, establish a whole-of-government response and cooperate with foreign governments. To better understand how governments coordinate and cooperate internally and externally to assist citizens, this paper utilised a 'structured and focused' comparative approach. The 'structure' was provided by three (Australia, Sweden and the UK) foreign ministries' consular responses to three large-scale events: the 2002 Bali bombings, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2006 evacuations from Lebanon. For the focus, the study employed an organising perspective. Government actions were considered through the lens of four key coordination relationships, within and between governments, in order to establish what role government plays and to identify limits and opportunities present in the response.