Starways Congress was founded many years after the Third Formic War. When it was created, it re-established the calendar based on the year of Congress' formation. Various religions and ethnic groups were granted permits to found colonies and allowed to rule them according to their belief systems provided they followed the laws set by the Congress. The human planets that followed the established rules and regulations were allowed as member planets in the Hundred Worlds.
Speaker for the Dead
After the discovery of another sentient alien species, the Pequeninos, Congress declared minimum interaction and cultural contamination by the xenologers of the colony planet Lusitania. When it was discovered that the xenologers Miro Ribeira and Ouanda Figueira had gone against the rules set by Starways Congress, they were declared criminals and were to be arrested by the governor of Lusitania, Bosquinha, and sent to Trondheim for trial.
Lusitania's populace did not follow this decree, and so Congress assembled and sent a Fleet to subdue the rebellious inhabitants of the planet and contain the Descolada. During the time the Fleet was traveling to Lusitania, Starways Congress gave them authorization to use the Molecular Disruption Device if necessary.
Children of the Mind
After Peter Wiggin II and Si Wang-mu convinced swing groups in Starways Congress to revoke the order, Admiral Bobby Lands, the commander of the Lusitania Fleet, ignored the changed plans and launched the M.D. Device anyways. Jane, along with Wiggin and Wang-mu, moved the device back on to the Fleet's flagship, where it was disabled.
Structure and Power
Starways Congress ruled according to the Starways Code. It was known to have the power to issue and revoke the charters of planetary governments. Starways Congress also held some level of control over the ansible network; until the discovery of Jane, they believed their control to be absolute.
Starways Congress' core belief was in the survival of the human race. When they learned of the danger posed by the Descolada, Gobawa Ekimbo, the chairman of the Xenological Oversight Committee of Starways Congress, ordered the termination of the planet on the grounds that humanity's survival preempts the survival of the Pequeninos.
Starways Congress made secret genetic modifications to certain of the planet Path, giving them high intellect, but also extreme OCD-like symptoms. These people, known as the Godspoken, believed that the Gods were speaking to them, and thus gave birth to a religion. This showed the power of Starways Congress, for they could isolate and harbor a culture such as that without allowing it to become diluted with other facets of human society.
The position of Inquisitor was a role within the government of Starways Congress. When Bishop Peregrino ordered the citizens of Lusitania not to speak to Andrew Wiggin on the basis that he was a Speaker for the Dead, he threatened to petition for the status of Inquisitor. If the planet was found guilty of religious persecution, then their Catholic-only license would be revoked, which would lead to Starways Congress shipping enough people off and to the planet to allow for a mixing of religion and culture so that it would be fair to everyone.
The position of Proconsul was delegated to those in the Exploratory Service who governed over planets that had not been granted continuing status. Dabeet Ochoa was Proconsul of the planet Catalunya.
Levels of Planetary Independence
Without Continuing Status
The lowest level of colony was one without continuing status. This likely meant that the colony had the chance to be terminated and dispersed to other planets at any time.
Continuing Status, Non-Independent
The next level of recognition a colony could be granted was continuing status. This likely meant that the colony was firmly established and would not be dispersed, but was not a member in Starways Congress and thus was not represented in the human galaxy.
The highest level a planet could be granted was member status. This meant that the colony was represented in Congress, and had equal sway with other members of the Hundred Worlds. Member planets could request to colonize other uninhabited planets.