Plenary of the Council of Administration

Welcome address by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Berne, Switzerland, 24 February 2016

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this plenary session of the CA that brings us to the end of the Doha Postal Cycle. This cycle has been a remarkable one full of activities and we are glad of our accomplishments so far.

I wish to report that as of December 2015, our performance on the overall implementation of the 25th UPU Congress decisions and resolutions stood at 81 per cent. We are confident that we will achieve the remaining targets in the coming months.

The Deputy Director General will shortly make a presentation on our full performance of the cycle. Suffice to say that we now have developed a monitoring tool that tracks performance in the various aspects of the Union. The dashboard is an internally developed solution that is helping us gauge our management efficiency and enable crucial interventions in good time.

In the process of implementing the Doha resolutions during the cycle, we organized 25 international and regional forums on a variety of topics. The forums involved sensitization and introduction of new products and innovations as well as sharing of information and best practices. Notable among these forums were the seven regional round tables on UPU strategy that helped us to develop priorities of member countries for the next cycle. I wish to thank the restricted unions for assisting to put up these forums in various parts of the world and for their active participation. Over 155 countries (89 per cent) of UPU members participated in these forums.

As a result, we now have a proposed Istanbul World Postal Strategy and the UPU’s Vision 2020 that is anchored on innovation, integration and inclusion of postal services. We have also developed a business plan and a proposed structure to deliver it. These are all contained in proposals that will be discussed at this plenary today for endorsement to form part of the 26th Congress agenda. I urge you to consider and endorse the proposals to enable the International Bureau to prepare them for Congress adoption.

During the cycle we entered into collaboration with various United Nations and other international agencies for mutual benefits of our organizations. The UPU participated in high level forums on climate change and sustainable development goals.

I wish to inform you that the UPU is now collaborating with the Pan American Health Organization to fight the spread of the Zika virus. The UPU has prepared campaign materials for display in post offices and other workplaces for sensitizing postal workers, customers and collaborators on the spread of the virus. We will begin this exercise with our members in the Caribbean and in Latin America where the prevalence of the virus has so far been reported. We shall contact you shortly after this meeting to coordinate the exercise.

During the cycle we have developed proposals on reform of the Union that was desired by members. Indeed, the subject of reform has been with us for many years and we should now bring to close this elusive subject of reform.

The reform proposal before you has been developed through extensive benchmarks and discussions with members across all the regions of the Union. We have also enlisted inputs from external experts who conducted a risk assessment of the Union. The conclusion is that our current working structure is heavy, cumbersome, bureaucratic, quite expensive and difficult to manage with our limited resources. It is therefore imperative that we must reform the Union in order for it to continue being relevant to our members. The reforms involve creating more efficiency in our work, faster decision making and better use of our resources.

You will recall that this council in last November established a working group to examine the reform proposals in depth. The group held two teleconferences in December 2015 and one physical meeting in January 2016. The group finally reached a consensus on a single Council structure as reflected in the published ad hoc report. However, there were divergent views on the election methodology and the question on representation where there is still room for consultation and consensus.

As we move ahead with the discussion of the reform proposal, I would advise that we need not reopen for discussion the structure which was agreed on by the ad hoc group in January. Let us focus on the election and representation.

During the RUPG meeting yesterday, some questions and clarifications were raised on the functions and mandates of the two commissions and the proposed single UPU council. The IB and ad hoc chairman have given the responses and will continue to do so for any member country with doubts. However, these issues should not be used as excuses to derail the reform agenda. There can never be a perfect proposal, more so on a sensitive subject as the one on reforms. Members should be able to agree to move ahead with the reforms and address any shortcomings during the implementation.

We have desired reforms for far too long to let it slip out of our grip over issues we can easily manage. I wish to call upon us to be inspired by words of one of the greatest leaders of our times; Mr. Nelson Mandela, the former president of the Republic of South Africa, who said:

“Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely daydreaming, vision with action can change the world.”

Let us act to change our postal world to make it relevant to the current needs of our customers and collaborators. Let us not just focus on the perceived risks of our actions but rather focus on the benefits that are expected. One of the greatest presidents of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, a leader credited with taking man to the moon and back once said:

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

Someone also said, “for a turtle to travel, it has to first stick its neck out”. I would say, if UPU must move forward, this council has to stick its neck out.

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the management of fear. Let fear not paralyze us into inaction. Let us overcome fear and manage the challenges as we move ahead. There is no perfect time we will be ready for change. We need to jump into the deep end. It is now or never.

I hope this time around we will take some decisive action on the issue of reforms.

I take this opportunity to salute all those pro-reform and urge those still in hesitation to take the step forward and take the plunge.

Thank you for your attention.