Electoral Trust

Elections have been a vital part of democratic transitions, the decolonization process, and U.N. supported peace agreements ending civil wars around the globe. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs is the United Nations focal point for electoral assistance activities, advising the Secretary-General on requests from Member states, and ensuring consistency in the delivery of electoral assistance by the United Nations.

The focal point is supported in this function by the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs. The division:

  • Reviews requests from Member States;
  • Undertakes needs assessment missions;
  • Provides technical assistance;
  • Maintains the institutional memory of the Organisation’s experience in electoral assistance;
  • Collaborates with other UN agencies and departments to design electoral assistance projects and the electoral components of peacekeeping operations;
  • Coordinates and supports the activities of international observers, and helps to develop capabilities for non-partisan national election observation; and Maintains a roster of international electoral experts.

  • U.N. electoral assistance has evolved over time. During the 1990s, the United Nations organized or observed landmark elections and popular consultations in East Timor, South Africa, Mozambique, El Salvador and Cambodia. More recently, the Organization has provided crucial technical assistance in milestone elections in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Burundi. Demand for U.N. electoral assistance is growing, as are the duration and complexity of these operations.