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

1 1 (August 31, 2023)

handle is hein.crs/govemsk0001 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Con   gressionaI Resea r h Service
  normi~ng Ih IegisIativ e debate sin ce 1914


                                                                                         Updated August 31, 2023

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.
Senators Patrick Leahy and James Risch served as
representatives during the 77th session. The 78th Assembly
session is scheduled to begin on September 5, 2023.

Overview of the U.N. Genera! 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 the U.S.
representatives during this time.

History  of Congressional  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, congressional representatives have served
as part of U.S. delegations to the U.N. General Assembly,
which are typically led and coordinated by the Department
of State. 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 from
2007 to 2022.)

Legkslative Authorty
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  Responstilitiks
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
facing the Assembly. The Department also provides
Members  with office space and services in the U.S. Mission
to the United Nations in New York City.

Appointm      ent  Process
As outlined in UNPA, the President, with the advice and
consent of the Senate, may designate congressional
representatives. In practice, SFRC has developed a policy
of not holding hearings for temporary or part-time
positions, including General Assembly representatives.
Instead, both HFAC and SFRC  have annually provided the
President with their choices, who are then nominated by the

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