The Universal House of Justice

Electoral Process

The Universal House of Justice is elected through a three-stage process.

In every national Bahá’í community, all adult Bahá’ís in good standing, 18 years of age or older, are eligible to take part in elections at the grassroots level—known as unit conventions—held once a year throughout their country. At these conventions, the Bahá’ís vote by secret ballot for delegates who are duly responsible to elect the nine persons to serve on the National Spiritual Assembly for the term of one administrative year. The National Spiritual Assembly is then elected at the National Convention.

The members of all National Spiritual Assemblies elect, in turn, the nine members to serve on the Universal House of Justice. The election of the Universal House of Justice is conducted once every five years at the International Bahá’í Convention. Of several days’ duration, the Convention is held at the World Centre of the Bahá’í Faith in Haifa, Israel, where the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies are able to visit the Holy Shrines in preparation for the duty they are called upon to discharge. Foremost in their minds as they cast their ballots are passages from the Bahá’í Writings which describe those whom they choose to serve on such an august body as “daysprings of knowledge and understanding”, “steadfast in God’s faith”, and the “well-wishers of all mankind”.1 In common with the procedure of electing all Bahá’í institutions, the election of the Universal House of Justice is devoid of any system of nomination, electioneering, canvassing or propaganda.

The membership of the Universal House of Justice is confined to men. While this may be surprising, it is a provision that was ordained by Bahá’u’lláh Himself. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that its wisdom will be clearly understood in the future. Because the Bahá’í Writings are filled with unequivocal statements about the equality of men and women, however, the question of male membership of the Universal House of Justice can in no way be regarded as a sign of the superiority of men over women. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá writes that the equality of men and women is an “established fact.”2 The Universal House of Justice is fully committed to advancing this principle—in its guidance to Bahá’í communities worldwide, through the resources allocated to the development and education of women and girl children in particular, through statements presented by the Bahá’í International Community at the United Nations, and by Bahá’í participation in conferences, seminars and other arenas.