The preconditions and guidelines for United Nations electoral assistance are described in General Assembly resolution A/49/675, under Annex III. Member States requesting assistance are advised of the following guidelines and procedures:
When to request?
Requests for assistance should be submitted in sufficient time, keeping in mind that many aspects of the electoral preparations cycle (eg. voter registration) take place months or even years before the election event. Normally a request made less than four months before election day cannot be accommodated.
Who can request?
Requests for electoral assistance must be made by an organ of the member state authorized to bind the state in agreements with the UN. National electoral management bodies do not normally have this authority, but their requests may sometimes be acceptable. Requests from political parties, civil society or other entities are not considered.
Where to submit a request?
Requests may be sent to the relevant United Nations Representative at the national or global level (the Secretary-General, her/his Special or Resident Representative, or the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs). All requests will be forwarded to the Focal Point for Electoral Assistance, who is the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
How to request?
A formal written request for electoral assistance from an authorized authority of the requesting Member State to the United Nations is required.
The request should be as specific as possible about the period for which electoral assistance is required, to allow an accurate assessment of needs. The request should state the election event(s) for which the UN is requested to provide assistance.
What happens when a request is received?
The request is evaluated to determine whether the United Nations should provide assistance and, if so, what type of assistance.
Normally, the evaluation includes a needs assessment mission (NAM) to the country conducted by the Electoral Assistance Division. In some cases, a formal needs assessment mission may not be necessary if an alternative means of assessment is considered sufficient.
Based on the NAM report, the Focal Point for Electoral Assistance, decides whether the UN should provide support and what type of support to provide.
Following approval by the Focal Point, design and implementation of the proposed assistance is carried out by the relevant UN entity, in accordance with the NAM recommendations and with advice from the Electoral Assistance Division.
In order to ensure the consistency of UN electoral assistance, the Electoral Assistance Division provides expert and policy advise; receives and reviews reports; and collects experiences and lessons learned for future reference and adaptation as appropriate.
While most assistance originates with a Member State request, United Nations electoral assistance may also be provided at the request of a UN governing body such as the Security Council or the General Assembly, as is often the case when peacekeeping or peace building missions are established with electoral components. However, even when mandated by these bodies, UN electoral assistance must also be agreed to by the relevant Member State. In those cases, a needs assessment mission conducted by EAD submits recommendations for a decision on the UN electoral support.