About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

1 1 (December 16, 2021)

handle is hein.crs/govehev0001 and id is 1 raw text is: nformfifl

essionaI Resear h SerVice
I h le islitive debate since 1914


Updated December 16, 2021
United Nations Issues: Congressional Representatives to the
U.N. General Assembly

The annual session of the United Nations (U.N.) General
Assembly is held at U.N. Headquarters in New York City.
The President generally appoints one Democrat and one
Republican to serve as U.S. representatives to the session,
alternating each year between the House and Senate. The
75th session opened in September 2020 and operated
remotely due to the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19)
pandemic; congressional representatives from the Senate
did not appear to participate. The 76th session began on
September 14, 2021, and has been conducted mostly in-
person. Congressional representatives to the session are
Representatives Barbara Lee and French Hill.
Overview of the U.N. General Assembly
The U.N. General Assembly is composed of all 193 U.N.
member states, including the United States. It is the primary
deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the
United Nations. Each country, including the United States,
has one vote. A two-thirds majority vote is required for
decisions related to key issues such as peace and security,
admission of new members, and the budget. A simple
majority vote applies for all other matters.
The Assembly's annual regular session opens in September
and runs for one year. The main part of the session, from
September to December, includes most of the work of the
Assembly's six committees. The annual meeting of heads
of state and government, often referred to as the general
debate, is held at the beginning of the Assembly session.
Members of Congress generally serve as representatives
during this time.
Most of the 76th Assembly session is being held in person.
Previously, the 75th session was virtual, with most high-
level speeches delivered via video link. Members used a
silence procedure to adopt resolutions. Under this
procedure, the president of the Assembly circulated a draft
resolution and members had at least 72 hours to raise
objections. If there were no objections, the president then
circulated a letter stating that the resolution was adopted.
History of Congress     na    Representation
The concept of congressional representation to the U.N.
General Assembly emerged from extensive participation by
both Senators and Representatives in the 1945 San
Francisco Conference on International Organization, which
led to the adoption of the U.N. Charter. The practice began
at the first Assembly session in 1946, when Members of the
Senate and House held positions as representatives and
alternate representatives, respectively. Since that time, with
few exceptions, each year two Senators have alternated
with two Representatives-with the Senate typically
serving in years when the House holds elections. In most

cases, both parties have been represented and, when
possible, the Administration and Congress have aimed to
select Members who have not previously served as
delegates. (See Table 1 for a list of congressional
representatives since 2006.)
Legislative Authority
After the adoption of the U.N. Charter, Congress enacted
the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 (UNPA; 22
U.S.C. 287 et seq.), which provides legislative authority for
U.S. engagement in the United Nations. UNPA does not
require congressional participation in sessions of the
General Assembly, but anticipates and permits participation
of Members of Congress, among other U.S. representatives,
in such sessions. Section 2 of the act sets out the authorities
for U.S. representation the United Nations. Specifically,
Section 2(a) specifies that the President, by and with the
advice and consent of the Senate, shall designate not more
than five U.S. representatives to attend a specified session
or specified sessions of the General Assembly. UNPA does
not specify whether Members are eligible to be appointed
as U.S. representatives; however, Section 2(g) prohibits
compensation for Members serving as U.S. representatives,
signaling that Members might serve.
Role and Responsibilities
The role and duties of congressional representatives are not
formalized; thus, the level and extent of congressional
engagement during the Assembly session depends on the
interests and priorities of individual Members. Delegates
generally travel to New York at the beginning of the regular
session. In the past, some Members have attended the
general debate and the President's reception for visiting
heads of state, while others have stayed for several
additional days or returned for other parts of the Assembly
session. Congressional representatives have also followed
the activities of one of the General Assembly's six main
committees, with at least one Member tracking the work of
the fifth committee, which is responsible for administrative
and budgetary matters related to the organization. Before or
during the session, Members may also schedule
appointments on policy issues of interest; these might
include one-on-one visits with heads of state, foreign
representatives, or U.N. officials.
Congressional representatives have often received support
from congressional committee staff and State Department
officials. For example, staff from the House Foreign Affairs
Committee (HFAC) and Senate Foreign Relations
Committee (SFRC) might write statements, provide
background materials and briefings, or arrange meetings for
Members. State Department officials generally coordinate
meetings and brief Members on U.S. policy and key issues

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most