Names stick, even if countries spend decades trying to change their image. ‘Banana Republics’ was once a pejorative term for politically unstable countries with limited resources; even today, the veneer of respectability is so thin that the slightest abuse shatters the image, and we’re back to square one! But I digress; first of all, let me admit right off the bat that I am fascinated by the thought that anyone could be so generous, for want of a better word, that he, or she, would pay a former spouse 100,000 Dollars, Pounds or Euros a month, in addition to all the minor bits of property worth millions etc. thrown in as part of the settlement, to enable him or her to continue the life he or she was living before the divorce. The maths is simple; that’s at least 1.2 million a year plus benefits; not even the Director General of the ‘O-E-what’s it called’ is paid quite that much, much less the prime minister of any impoverished small island developing state.
So I would throw my support behind any struggling billionaire, or ‘billionairess’, who wanted to find a way to avoid being dragged into court and having to pay out even more to the former love of his or her life. It’s a pity, but the permanence of marriage is such a fleeting thing these days; that’s just how it is. And I would probably applaud any billionaire, or ‘billionairess’, who was able to scratch around to find a detrital nation willing to sell ambassadorial immunity for the right price. Such resourcefulness would be even more prescient if ambassadorial immunity had been offered for sale even before economic citizenship was in place. Come to think of it, maybe that’s where the idea came from?
But then again, it is quite possible that any billionaire, or ‘billionairess’, who might or might not have been on the lookout for a hurricane hole in a stormy sea of legal nastiness, was unexpectedly approached by some ‘immunity tout’ or ‘citizenship caterer’ eager to make a quick buck or two. I mean, let’s look at the process of picking ambassadors, shall we? Ambassadors are often picked for political reasons; their nominations are really ‘thank-yous’ for services rendered, personal or otherwise, to a political party or leader. Ambassadorships may even be bestowed as paybacks for significant monetary contributions. Of course, it is not at all certain that any billionaire, or ‘billionairess’, in a tight spot would be willing to contribute financially to any political party or politician in return for immunity, but the thought is there, and I am sure that there might be plenty of politicians willing to offer immunity for the right price at the right time in the right place. Of course, ambassadors are not always appointed as rewards, some might even have special skills or knowledge that make them suitable to perform a specific mission. Take ICAO, for example, the Global Civil Aviation Authority; anyone appointed as ambassador to such an authority might well possess special knowledge of aviation law, procedures and policies. You wouldn’t really want someone who’d spent his or her whole life in a canoe or sitting on the back of a camel in the job, would you now?
But talking about fishing, you might not want someone who grew up surrounded by sand dunes far from the nearest ocean to represent you in all things maritime, unless of course he or she had made a significant contribution to your party or to you personally. But then again, the appointment might not be about money, gratitude, politics or favours; the appointee might be a person of immense energy, the sort of person who would attend every meeting, lobby every official and institution, and even sit outside office doors for days waiting for a chance to plead your cause. Perhaps the appointee’s sheer energy, determination and dedication might be enough to justify his or her appointment. The question is would a billionaire, or ‘billionairess’, with yachts to sail and cocktails to drink have time for such dedication to such a humdrum job? You’d have to choose carefully, wouldn’t you?
And what abut the appointment process? Shouldn’t it be conducted in a transparent manner by inviting applicants, or choosing candidates in open competition so that the best qualified or most suitable man or woman might win? And should such important appointments really be made in secret? How many covert, diplomatically-immune ambassadors are out there in the wide world ostensibly representing the interests of countries to which they do not belong and which they have rarely, if ever, visited? I would not blame any billionaire, or ‘billionairess’, in a tight spot for seeking every way out of a legal dilemma; sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But for anyone to hold his or her country up to the scrutiny and ridicule of the world by donating diplomatic immunity to persons unqualified for a specific task, unwilling to perform the role given them, at a legally sensitive time, without any just cause is to abuse the rules and conventions of global diplomacy in such a way as to invite shame and castigation. As they say: Once a banana republic, always a banana republic. Just cain’t get rid o’ those damned bananas!