There's a fairly large amount of people who think UN should be kicked out of New York City.

Why and whether it's a valid point of view is rather irrelevant. What I'm interested in, what would be required and based on that, who has the power to do so and would have to be on board with it to make it happen?

E.g., does the mayor of NYC have the power to do this? President of Unites States? NYC zoning board? UN General Assembly only? UN Security Council only? Majority of US Senate?

  • 5
    More likely, the UN will decide to move to a city or cities with a lower cost of living.
    – phoog
    Sep 21 '17 at 13:58
  • 5
    Is this meant as a legal or a political question? Legally, it’s simple – nobody can (the GA can decide to move the seat elsewhere, but you couldn’t call that “kicking out”). Politically, there are more options, since the US could in theory, e.g., block physical access (thereby gravely annoying all the other member states).
    – chirlu
    Sep 21 '17 at 14:03
  • 4
    @chirlu The legal question would seem to come down to "which parties can renounce the UN Headquarters agreement?": treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%2011/…
    – origimbo
    Sep 21 '17 at 14:14
  • 3
    @user4012 I'm not sure, but UN agencies are in fact reducing their presence in New York in favor of other cities. It will be a long time, if ever, before the UN leaves the city entirely, but a voluntary departure still seems more likely than an expulsion.
    – phoog
    Sep 21 '17 at 14:41
  • 3
    @phoog: Is the reduced presence really a "departure", though, or just a geographical diversification driven by the manifest disadvantages of operating from NYC (e.g. high property costs, crowding, &c), or any centralized location?
    – jamesqf
    Sep 21 '17 at 18:54

The key part of the UN headquarters agreement is

Section 23 The seat of the United Nations shall not be removed from the headquarters district unless the United Nations should so decide.

So the only body that can decide to move the headquarters in the UN itself, ie the General Assembly.

The Mayor of New York certainly has no power to remove the UN. The President could make life difficult for UN diplomats, but he also doesn't have the power to move the Headquarters to another location.


James' answer covers the legalities pretty succinctly.

Technically, however, the POTUS could kick the UN Headquarters out of New York, by "simply" unilaterally withdrawing the US from any and all United Nations memberships and treaties -- at which point the US would no longer be bound by the UNHQ agreement and could tell them to piss off.

Of course, the diplomatic, political and economic cost of a move like that would be catastrophic, but if he really wanted to, he could.

What would be more likely to happen in practice would be that the US would formally ask the UN to move their headquarters elsewhere, and the UN would probably answer "Sure, just as soon as we agree on another country/city to host the HQ and finish building it" which would probably take quite a while.

  • 2
    On unilaterally withdrawing, sort of - Goldwater v. Carter suggests that if the President decides to withdraw from a treaty, SCOTUS may be willing to hear the constitutionality if the Senate passes a resolution dissenting to the withdrawal. Apr 6 '19 at 22:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .