Statement at the 77th General Assembly Sixth Committee Agenda Item 167: Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country

Elizabeth Grosso
Attorney Adviser
New York, New York
November 7, 2022


Thank you, Chair.

The United States takes great pride in serving as the host country of the United Nations Headquarters. We are dedicated to fulfilling our obligations under the Headquarters Agreement and strive to be welcoming and supportive hosts to all Permanent Missions and Observer Offices to the UN in New York.

We would like to thank the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, the Governor’s Office, and all the public servants in New York who have worked to keep the UN community safe this year and to provide them necessary services. We are pleased that the General Assembly has returned fully to meeting in-person for its 77th session. Those who attended High Level Week can attest to the tremendous resources and attention that this City devotes to supporting the UN.

The United States Mission’s Host Country Section works countless hours to assist your missions with an array of issues ranging from routine administrative questions to emergency situations. If your mission has any concerns or questions, we urge you to contact the Host Country Section right away. The sooner we know of an issue, the more quickly we can help address it.

Our leadership has also engaged throughout this year with the members of the Host Country Committee, representatives of interested states, and with the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs to address concerns. We continuously work to improve processes, respond efficiently to questions, and resolve outstanding issues. The impact of our efforts is evident, particularly on visa issuances.

Over the past two years, we have streamlined procedures, devoted more resources to visa processing, and improved processing times, despite major hurdles, including continued backlogs of visa applications around the world as a lingering result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At this fall’s General Assembly, we issued the vast majority of requested visas on time, including approximately 95 percent of visas requested by the Russian Federation, a significant number given difficult challenges we face as a result of Russia’s actions and decisions. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield explained these concerns in two letters to the Secretary General this year, shared with all member states.

To ensure timely issuance, we encourage all Member States to continue to apply for visas well in advance of their intended travel, include all requested application information, and share with us in advance if you have concerns about a particular visa, especially when it comes to last minute travel. We must also remind member states to refrain from applying for diplomatic visas to engage in unauthorized activities that are unrelated to UN business. Abuse of UN visas is an affront to the UN and undermines its critical work.

On other topics some delegations have raised today, I refer you to the summaries of U.S. statements included in the full report of the Host Country Committee.

Most importantly, I want to stress that the United States Mission and senior officials in the U.S. government continue to be in active dialogue with the United Nations’ Office of Legal Affairs. Given the constructive dialogue with OLA, consistent responses by the US Mission to concerns raised by member states, and the strength of the Host Country Committee to resolve issues, calls for more formal dispute resolution are inappropriate, unjustified, and counterproductive.

The United States is pleased that the Host Country Committee has once again adopted by consensus the recommendations and conclusions that appear at the end of its report. This was accomplished through intensive negotiations among the Members of the Committee.  We hope that the Sixth Committee will continue to follow its prior practice, which is to fold the recommendations of the Host Country Committee into its own resolution, and to adopt that resolution by consensus.

Chair, we would like to particularly thank the Legal Counsel, Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs, Miguel de Serpa Soares, the Deputy Legal Counsel, Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs Stephen Mathias, and the Secretary of the Committee, Surya Sinha, for their valuable support of the Host Country Committee. We would also like to thank the Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Andreas Hadjichrysanthou of Cyprus, and Legal Adviser Haris Chrysostomou, for their continued work leading the Committee throughout the year and facilitating the completion of the Committee report.

The United States is honored to have the privilege of hosting the United Nations in this great city of New York. We do not take our responsibilities lightly. We know that in this capacity, as Host Country to this essential international organization, we have a special responsibility to each and every person in this room, to each and every delegate in the Halls of the United Nations, and to all of the international civil servants at the United Nations.

Thank you, Chair.