Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Duties and RolesEdit
Starways Congress rules according to the Starways Code. Their exact powers are not enumerated; however, some idea of them may be inferred from the novels. It is known to have the power to issue and revoke the charters of planetary governments. Some control over justice is exercised, apparently in extreme cases and when religious persecution is at issue. Starways Congress also holds some level of control over the ansible network; until the intervention of Jane, they believe their control over that to be absolute. In the novel Speaker for the Dead, Starways Congress declares the planet Lusitania to be in rebellion, revokes their charter, and removes all documents from that planet. They also order two xenologers to travel to the nearest planet to stand trial for their crimes.
Their efforts across the spectrum are hampered by the distances between the Hundred Worlds. The chairman of the Xenological Oversight Committee, Gobawa Ekimbu, complains that he has "a hundred times the responsibility" and "a tenth of Peter Wiggin's power." While Earth was small and no region could remain isolated, all a planet must do is cut their ansible. In contrast to Peter Wiggin's ability to rush troops and reinforcements anywhere on Earth within days, it takes decades for the armies of Starways Congress to reach their target.
Starways Congress' core belief is in the survival of the human race. When they learn of the danger posed by the Descolada, Gobawa Ekimbu, the leader of Starways Congress, says, "I want to make sure that it's the other guys that disappear." They order the termination of the planet on the grounds that humanity's survival preempts the survival of the Pequeninos.