Procedure for the proclamation of the international decades

Guidelines and course of action to be followed for the proclamation of International Decades.

By resolution 1989/84 of 24 May 1989 the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted “Guidelines for international decades in economic and social fields”.

Proclamation of international decades

International decades are proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Proposals for international decades are to be submitted to ECOSOC, which recommends that the General Assembly adopt them after the proposals have been reviewed by the intergovernmental bodies concerned, taking into account the views of all Member States and NGOs concerned. Consequently, as a general rule, there should be an interval of two years between the submission of a proposal to ECOSOC and the proclamation of the decade by the General Assembly.

Selection of subjects and timing

A subject proposed for a decade should be consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations as stated in its Charter. It should be of priority concern in the economic, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights field. It should require long-term action at the international or regional level and at national level, which would contribute to the strengthening of international peace and to the development of international cooperation. In areas where effective programmes already exist, an international decade may be proclaimed only if it is expected to advance the implementation of their objectives. In general, decades should not overlap and may be initiated only if it is clear that the United Nations system has the substantive, administrative and financial capacity to play an effective role in the implementation of their programmes. Before a new decade is proposed, the possibility of a shorter period of observance should be considered.


Proposals must include a draft programme of action with clearly defined objectives and activities to be carried out at the international, regional and national levels.

The draft programme of action should indicate:

  • organizational arrangements;
  • arrangements for financing from both budgetary and extrabudgetary sources;
  • procedures for monitoring implementation;
  • public information activities;
  • where appropriate, advisory services upon request from governments;
  • the lead agency or agencies for the decade;
  • mechanisms for coordinating the activities of the organizations of the United Nations system and those of other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations concerned;
  • the establishment at the national level of mechanisms to mobilize public support and carry out the related activities.

Additional requirements are to be fulfilled when a subsequent decade on a particular subject is proposed. An appropriate intergovernmental body should review the implementation of the programme of action.