I
Establishing a new mission
in New York

When a country has been admitted by the General Assembly as a Member State of the United Nations, it is expected that it will establish a permanent mission at United Nations Headquarters or at other major United Nations centres, such as Geneva or Vienna, and appoint a Permanent Representative. By its resolution 257 A (III), the General Assembly expressed its opinion that the presence of the permanent mission and the Permanent Representative of a Member State at the seat of the Organization would serve to assist in the realization of the purposes and principles of the United Nations and to keep the necessary liaison between the Member States and the Secretariat.

            In conformity with international law and United Nations practice, the term "Permanent Representative" has a clear interpretation. At the United Nations, this term was institutionalized by the General Assembly in its resolution 257 A (III) wherein it recommended, inter alia, that credentials of newly appointed Permanent Representatives be issued by either the Head of State or Government or Minister for Foreign Affairs and that in the case of the temporary absence of the Permanent Representative from the seat of the Organization, the Secretary-General of the United Nations be notified of the name of the person who would be in charge of the mission as chargé d'affaires a.i.

            From the foregoing, it is obvious that the term "Permanent Representative of a Member State to the United Nations" defines a person of the appropriate diplomatic rank who permanently (as distinct from temporarily) resides at the seat of the organization and is the head of an established permanent representation (mission) with a postal address, a telephone number and an e-mail address.


II
Letters of Credentials

On 3 December 1948, the General Assembly adopted resolution 257 A (III) regarding permanent missions of Member States to the United Nations. The resolution reads as follows:

            "The General Assembly,

            "Considering that, since the creation of the United Nations, the practice has developed of establishing, at the seat of the Organization, permanent missions of Member States,

            "Considering that the presence of such permanent missions serves to assist in the realization of the purposes and principles of the United Nations and, in particular, to keep the necessary liaison between the Member States and the Secretariat in periods between sessions of the different organs of the United Nations,

            "Considering that in these circumstances the generalization of the institution of permanent missions can be foreseen, and that the submission of credentials of Permanent Representatives should be regulated,

            "Recommends

            "1.            That credentials of the Permanent Representatives shall be issued either by the Head of the State or by the Head of the Government or by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and shall be transmitted to the Secretary-General;

            "2.            That the appointments and changes of members of the permanent missions other than the Permanent Representative shall be communicated in writing to the Secretary-General by the head of the mission;

            "3.            That the Permanent Representative, in case of temporary absence, shall notify the Secretary-General of the name of the member of the mission who will perform the duties of head of the mission;

            "4.            That Member States desiring their Permanent Representatives to represent them on one or more of the organs of the United Nations should specify the organs in the credentials transmitted to the Secretary-General;

            "Instructs the Secretary-General to submit, at each regular session of the General Assembly, a report on the credentials of the Permanent Representatives accredited to the United Nations."

            The annex to the report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly at its fourth session on permanent missions to the United Nations gave a form of credentials which, in the light of the above resolution, appears to be satisfactory and which, accordingly, is reproduced below as a guide to the drafting of such instruments.

            It should be noted that all letters of credentials must be addressed by name to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Standard form of credentials

"Whereas the Government of ... has set up at the seat of the United Nations a permanent mission to maintain necessary contact with the Secretariat of the Organization,

"Now therefore we ... [name and title] have appointed and by these presents do confirm as Permanent Representative to the United Nations His/Her Excellency ... [name] ... [diplomatic rank].

"His/Her Excellency ... is instructed to represent the Government of ... in all organs of the United Nations ... . He/She is also authorized to designate a substitute to act temporarily on his/her behalf after due notice to the Secretary-General.

"In faith whereof we have signed these presents at ... on ...

"[Signature and title]

"[Head of State,Head of Government
or Minister for Foreign Affairs]"

            In accordance with a practice that has been followed for 60 years, Member States elected to the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council are required under the relevant rules of procedure to submit separate credentials for their representatives in each of these organs.

                  See Official Records of the General Assembly, Fourth Session, Annex to the Summary Records of the Sixth Committee, p.17.

                  It has become the standard for the Governments of Member States to appoint Permanent Representatives to the United Nations with the rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.