Universal Postal Union

Universal Postal Union is a specialized agency of the United Nations.

The purpose of its activity is to organize and improve the postal service activities worldwide and to ensure international cooperation in this sphere with the aim to ease communication between people around the world.

UPU unites the member countries into a single postal area and is the main forum for cooperation between postal services, which develops the principles for the organization and functioning of international postal exchanges.

The main principles of UPU are as follows:

  • formation of a single postal territory
  • guaranteeing free movement of postal items in the interconnected single postal territory
  • unification of postal tariffs and units of weight
  • promotion of the idea of adopting fair and common standards
  • ensuring the satisfaction of rapidly changing consumer needs in the modern world
  • collaboration and interaction with all stakeholders
  • facilitating the development of international postal services and postal technical assistance to the UPU member countries
  • settlement of the disputes by means of arbitration

UPU comprises 192 member-countries.

UPU is a modern institution with a long history and rich traditions. Postal customers around the world can count on increasingly convenient and reliable postal services, which will remain the most affordable and easy international means of communication.

The headquarters is situated in Bern (Swiss Confederation).

Structure of UPU

The main authority of UPU is the Universal Postal Congress (UPC), to which all member states are delegated.

The Universal Postal Congress is usually held every four years, and its main function is legislative, as well as the consideration of general political issues. Other functions of the Congress include election of the Director General and his deputy, as well as the members of the Executive Council and the Postal Operations Council; Congress also sets the budget for the next five years.

An Extraordinary Congress may also be convened at the request or with the consent of at least two thirds of the member countries of the UPU. The first Extraordinary Congress was held in Berne, Switzerland, from 2 to 5 July 1900, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the organization.

Nevertheless, through resolution C 28/2016, the Istanbul Congress decided to hold a Second Extraordinary Congress in 2018 (for a maximum of five working days), with the aim of addressing various issues relating to the current and future World Postal Strategy as well as other urgent postal sector matters.

More specifically, the Second Extraordinary Congress was being convened as part of ongoing efforts to reform the UPU, with a view to improving and speeding up decision-making processes within the organization and ensuring its financial sustainability.

The Council of Administration consists of the Chairman and representatives of 40 member countries and is held annually at the UPU headquarters in Berne.

It ensures the continuity of the work of UPU between the congresses, oversees the UPU’s activities, and examines the regulatory, administrative, and legislative issues of the work of the Union. The Council of Administration is also entitled to carry out activities within its competence, which, in its opinion, are necessary for the resolution of interim cases. The Council approves the budget and accounts of UPU, as well as annually supplements the Program of Action of the Union. It is also responsible for facilitating and coordinating technical assistance between member states. The duties of the Chairman of the Council of Administration are automatically granted to the country where the last Congress was held.

The Postal Operations Council is the technical and operational body of the UPU and consists of representatives from 40 selected member states. It deals with the practical, economic and commercial aspects of the activities of the international postal service. The purpose of the Council’s program of activities is to help postal institutions modernize, improve and unify their mail products. The Chairman of the Postal Operations Council is elected by its members.

The International Bureau was established by the Berne agreement of 1874 and is based in Berne and engaged in general support of the UPU. The Bureau serves as an information and advisory body for the UPU, and also provides technical cooperation between member states. The International Bureau is responsible for ensuring the representation of the UPU in its external relations, mainly with international organizations. It does not interfere with conflicts between postal administrations and their clients.

Key events of UPU

The key events of UPU are the following:

  • Universal Postal Congress ­ every four years.

26th UPU Congress was held from September 20 to October 7, 2017 in Istanbul (Turkey).

The Second Extraordinary Congress was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 3 to 7 September 2018.

Following the relevant decisions taken by the bodies of the UPU, a number of key topics was examined by the Second Extraordinary Congress:

  • Implementation of the UPU's Integrated Product Plan and the Integrated Remuneration Plan
  • Reform of the UPU
  • Reform of the system applied to contributions by UPU member countries
  • Sustainability of the UPU Provident Scheme

UPU Ministerial Strategy Conference 2018

During the Second Extraordinary Congress, there was a Ministerial Strategy Conference held on 6–7 September 2018. During this conference, government ministers and other senior decision-makers discussed how postal operators and the postal sector in general could better serve nations and citizens, help grow the economy and drive development. Speakers at the conference also included senior officials from other intergovernmental organizations. The conference, at the same time, reviewed the implementation of the UPU World Postal Strategy adopted at Istanbul in 2016.

  • Sessions of the Administrative Council ­ twice a year.
  • Sessions of the Council for Postal Exploitation ­ twice a year.

Universal Postal Convention

Doha World Postal Strategy

Istanbul World Postal Strategy