ECOSOC formulated guidelines for international decades in 1988 (following an earlier recommendation for international years and anniversaries):
The subject proposed for a decade should be consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as stated in the Charter. It should be of priority concern in the political, economic, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights field, and should require long-term action at the international or regional level and at the national level. Action on the subject should contribute to the development of international cooperation or the strengthening of universal peace.
In areas where effective programmes already exist, international decades should be proclaimed only if they can be expected to produce results that would not otherwise be achieved.
As a rule, overlapping of decades should be avoided. A new international decade should 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 a programme for the decade.
Before a new decade is proposed, consideration should be given to the possibility of an observance for a shorter period of time.