CA Plenary session 2019.1, 12 April 2019

Speech by the UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein to the CA Plenary session 2019.1, Berne, Switzerland, 12 April 2019.


Chairman of the CA, Mr Kenan Bozgeyik,

Vice-Chairmen of the CA,

The Deputy Director General, Mr. Pascal Clivaz,

Members of the CA,

Heads of Delegations,

Distinguished Delegates and observers,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you, Chairman, for the opportunity to make some brief remarks at the start of this CA Plenary of the 2019 S5 session.

I welcome you all to the International Bureau and to this plenary meeting.

I wish to thank the Chairmen of the various Committees and Taskforces who have been leading deliberations in the past days for successfully concluding their work to set the agenda for this Plenary.

Allow me also to congratulate facilitators and participants of the Postal Forum on Regulation that took place on 9 April.

The Forum provided us with an opportunity to hear regulatory perspective on a wide range topics including universal service, competition, pricing and remuneration. The role of regulators in postal services is getting even more significant with the growing number of new services, new players and increased customer needs.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During the last session of the Council, members the Union was notified by the government of the United States of America of their intention to withdraw from the treaties of the UPU. This was due to the country’s objections to the remuneration regime of the Union.        

In response to my request to the government of the United States of America to seek a meeting to discuss this unprecedented move by a member country, I was recently invited to Washington. I led an IB delegation to meet high-level authorities at the White House to discuss this matter.  

I note that this mission was extremely important to:  

  • Obtain further clarity on the US’s position concerning ongoing remuneration discussions, particularly from the perspective of the White House; and
  • Explain the impact of the withdrawal decision on the UPU, the US and other Union member countries.

Furthermore, during my visit I explained to the US authorities the efforts that other member countries were making to address Washington’s demands. A lot of effort had gone into trying to find an acceptable solution to address the demands.

I wish to inform this Council that even though the United States of America authorities did not accept our request for them to reconsider the notice to quite the Union, we, nevertheless, took them through the negative consequences of leaving the global network. We also suggested to them alternative means of achieving their desired goal while still retaining their membership.

I wish to thank all UPU members for your efforts and show of clear desire to keep Union united as a strong single world network. Your efforts have demonstrated your support for multilateral approach to providing global postal solutions.

Last week during POC meetings and in the various sessions of CA committees, particularly in Committee 2, the issue of US withdrawal has continued to dominate our discussions. I have noted with satisfaction members’ interest and resolve to address the matter.

If so approved by the plenary, next week the IB shall be launching a ballot to seek member countries direction into addressing the matter.

The CA members have expressed interest in convening an Extraordinary Congress later in the year to discuss the three remuneration models that have been developed. It is my hope that this ballot will provide a suitable forum through which to discuss and find solutions to this subject.

Mr Chairman, dear colleagues, we have been shown the consequences of withdrawal from the Union by any member. Apart from disrupting the strong postal network that has served players for 145 years, such departure would be costly not just to the withdrawing country but to postal customers, the Union and to the other members.

Throughout our meetings and negotiations, the message I have heard repeatedly is one asking the United States of America not to withdraw from the Union. I have also seen great effort and determination by members to address the remuneration element that USA has a problem with. The sacrifice has been overwhelmingly positive. I do hope the United States of America is taking note of this as well. Members want you to stay in the Union.

On this note, I call upon the United States of America to take this positive gesture by members as the basis to help this Union find a solution rather double the problem. I feel quitting will just complicate the situation.

The good thing is that we have all agreed there in need to address the remuneration system of UPU services so as to bring them in line with prevailing business realities.

Let me add that it is clear to me, and I believe to many of you, that the terminal dues system, introduced many years ago, is no longer fit for the purpose of the market. Change is necessary.

Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

I have always said it and I repeat here: that the Union’s main challenge right now is its structure of decision-making.

I strongly believe the remuneration problem we are dealing with now is just a symptom of a bigger existential challenge that we may be faced with in future. May be in very near future.

As we try to solve the problem at hand, let us think broadly of how we can eliminate all the challenges that the Union is faced with in relation to its role, relevance and value to members and the to the postal business. This is a study the IB is willing to help undertake.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know we have a long agenda today for the plenary; I will not take much of your time with a long speech.

But, before I conclude my intervention I wish to bring to the attention of this Council that on 12 February 2019, the State of Palestine submitted a formal application for admission to the UPU in accordance with the relevant requirements of the Constitution of the Union.

Under the provisions I have referred to, I have written to all members to consult them on the application. The communication is in form of ballot seeking Union member countries to decide on the application for admission as submitted by the State of Palestine.

The International Bureau shall inform Union member countries in due course the result of this consultation.

Thank you very much for your attention. I wish you every success in your deliberations in the Plenary today.

Thank you.