Office of Protocol (Foreign Consulates)
- Office of Protocol (Foreign Consulates)
Created in 1982 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Office of Protocol is responsible for ensuring that appropriate protocol is observed when foreign dignitaries visit Los Angeles County; maintaining a liaison with the Los Angeles Consular Corps; promoting international business, tourism and cultural exchanges throughout Los Angeles County; and promoting international understanding and cultural awareness.
Protocol is the set of rules prescribing good manners in official life and in ceremonies involving governments and nations and their representatives. It is the recognized system of international courtesy.
Other countries often are more rigid in their practice of official etiquette or protocol than is the United States. It is important for international goodwill, understanding, prestige and acceptance that the United States and its local governments be sensitive to these differences and behave in such a manner as to not offend unnecessarily.
Another more contemporary definition which recognizes the value of protocol in the business world but also applies to diplomatic protocol comes from Robert Frye, former Chief of Protocol for Lucent Technologies and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and for U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte:
Protocol is the art of creating a distraction free environment that facilitates the complete and open exchange of information to resolve issues and build relationships in global business and international diplomacy.
This definition applies to government as well. Making mistakes in protocol or breeching etiquette can lead to larger problems that detract from the main purpose of the visit of or event for an international dignitary.
- Plans and coordinates official welcome presentations, meetings and special events for the Board of Supervisors when Chiefs of State/Heads of Government and other distinguished foreign officials (above the rank of Ambassador) visit Los Angeles County;
- Provides assistance/direction to County departments and County cultural facilities hosting informational meetings/briefings for foreign delegations;
- Serves as the County’s liaison to the Los Angeles Consular Corps for the purpose of developing and nurturing strong working relationships with our international counterparts. The Los Angeles Consular Corps is the second largest Consular Corps in the United States and third largest in the world;
- Serves as the County’s liaison to protocol offices of the State of California, City of Los Angeles, Counties of Orange and San Diego, and other cities and states with active protocol offices.
- Coordinates with foreign consulates, U.S. Office of Foreign Missions, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department International Liaison Unit, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies involved in consular affairs and dignitary visits;
- Works with civic groups such as the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and LA Inc. (The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau) to offer hospitality to foreign dignitaries and delegations and to showcase and promote the Los Angeles County region;
- Through events such as the annual Consular Corps Events Reception, secures funds to support on-going events and activities hosted by the Board of Supervisors and liaison work with the Consulates.
- Assists County departments, members of the business, academic, and public communities with questions concerning general protocol, etiquette, international customs, flag etiquette, and other related issues.
- Provides direction to community groups interested in creating Sister County relationships and/or Friendship Agreements. Coordinates activities relating to both.
In 1988, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed its Chief Administrative Officer to investigate and make recommendations on the feasibility of establishing sister county relationships with jurisdictions in other countries that have common characteristics and interests. The purpose of sister county relationships is to further global understanding through people-to-people, community-to-community contacts on a continuing long-term basis.
Operating under a specific set of guidelines, the County has established sister county relationships with:
- Taipei County (1996);
- City of Huhhot in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (2000); and
- Rome Province (2006)