The Bahá’í Faith is administered by a series of elected bodies at the local, national and international levels. There is no class of ecclesiastics or clergy.
The Universal House of Justice is the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith. It is the supreme administrative body ordained by Bahá’u’lláh in His book of laws. The Universal House of Justice is elected every five years at the International Bahá’í Convention, where members of the National Spiritual Assemblies (see below) around the world serve as delegates. The Universal House of Justice was first elected in 1963. Its permanent seat is on Mount Carmel in Haifa.
At the national level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member elected council responsible for guiding, co-ordinating, and stimulating the activities of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual members of the Bahá’í community within a given country. The responsibilities of a National Spiritual Assembly include channelling the community’s financial resources, fostering the growth and vibrancy of the national Bahá’í community, supervising the affairs of the community including its social and economic development activities and its properties, overseeing relations with government, resolving questions from individuals and Local Spiritual Assemblies, and strengthening the participation of the Bahá’í community in the life of society at the national level.
At the local level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the Local Spiritual Assembly. Each Local Assembly consists of nine members who are chosen in annual elections. As with all other elected Bahá’í institutions, the Assembly functions as a body and makes decisions through consultation. The responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly include promoting the spiritual education of children and young people, strengthening the spiritual and social fabric of Bahá’í community life, assessing and utilizing the community’s resources, and ensuring that the energies and talents of community members contribute towards progress.
In addition, the Bahá’í Faith has counsellors, appointed to five-year terms by the Universal House of Justice, who serve as advisers in countries and regions around the world. Currently there are 81 such counsellors assigned to specific countries or regions, and an additional nine counsellors who constitute the membership of the International Teaching Centre at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa.
The Bahá’í International Community is a non-governmental organization that represents the worldwide Bahá’í community. It has been registered with the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization since 1948. It currently has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as accreditation with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). The Bahá’í International Community collaborates with the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as member states, inter- and non-governmental organizations, academia, and practitioners. It has Representative Offices in Addis Ababa, Brussels, Geneva, Jakarta, and New York.