Speech by the Assistant Secretary General, Mr Pascal Clivaz, at the closing ceremony of the second Extraordinary Congress

07.09.2018 - Addis Ababa. The plenipotentiaries of governments of UPU member countries have met 26 times in ordinary Congress, and twice now in Extraordinary Congress.

Your debates over the last five days have, again and again, confirmed the need for this Congress.

A total of 141 member countries have joined us and taken part in our discussions, doubtless impelled by their strong belief in multilateralism. (Istanbul Congress attendance: 157 out of 192 member countries.) These countries, and all of you here today, are deserving of thanks and commendation. Our Union has indeed validated its raison d’être.

Several years ago as you will recall, we crafted a vision for the Union in the Nairobi Postal Strategy, once again positioning the postal sector as an essential component of economic development. History has borne out the truth of that vision. During the preparatory work leading up to these discussions here in Addis Ababa, many stakeholders stood up and made their voice heard. The UPU is on the radar of even the most powerful leaders around the globe.

Of course, we will not arrive at all the answers and solutions overnight; the topics discussed will remain key areas of focus, and we will continue to demonstrate this Union’s ability to prioritize.

The groups, committees and task forces had less than two years to achieve the ambitious objectives of this meeting here in Africa. Those taking the lead are worthy of tribute as they shouldered great responsibility. It is easy to criticize, but harder to build solutions and achieve compromise. Bravo, all you architects. With responsibility comes turbulence, as many leaders would attest. The postal sector is not an island, and neither is the UPU: it is proof that it takes courage and a heightened sense of the common interest to enact change, along with a constructive approach and a desire to come together. Any other approach has no place here.

In his opening address, our Secretary General reminded us of the need to find solutions to ensure the sustainability of our Union. Thanks to you and your willing spirit, important steps have been taken, for example, in the area of reform – a core, institutional issue. Following the work accomplished during the Istanbul Congress, we needed to resolve certain matters, like the make-up of the Postal Operations Council, which will now comprise 48 members instead of the current 40. We also did away with the development level criterion for the POC but retained the renewal principle, which will be based on geographical group. Despite the lack of consensus on a new contribution system, the UPU’s spirit of solidarity prevailed several times. A prime example was the adjustment to the contribution classes to better accommodate small island developing states with a population under 200,000.

With respect to the Provident Scheme, we have not yet fully tackled this complex subject which affects current and retired staff. However, one thing seems clear: the need to maintain acquired rights.

On products, we have made progress. Although the tracking system has not yet been made mandatory, there is overall recognition of the need to pursue work in this area. Finally, the topic of remuneration elicited a UPU-worthy response, with consensus reached on a complex subject that will remain on our agendas in the years to come. This Extraordinary Congress did not hold elections, but it did set new ways of doing things, to keep pace with change. These will be put to the test for the first time in Abidjan. On that note, I salute our friends from the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, who are once again taking up the challenge and who are about to reiterate their desire to host this major event on behalf of Africa. You will recall that, starting with the Istanbul Congress, the host country now covers 100% of the International Bureau’s operating costs. This significant contribution lightens our budgetary burden. Thank you, Turkey and Ethiopia, and, in advance, thanks to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. This Congress did not hold elections, but certain ambitions were unveiled, demonstrating the appeal of the organization.

Finally, this Congress did not hold elections, but it set a strong course as the Union prepares to celebrate its 145th anniversary in 2019. Respect for differences during debate has always been and remains a distinguishing trait of this organization, as is fitting. This Congress was marked by a spirit of openness that we all acknowledge and appreciate. Thank you all.

Our meeting here at the seat of the African Union also gave our ministers a platform. Following Doha and Istanbul, the third Ministerial Conference will help steer development of the Abidjan Postal Strategy. We look forward to further rich discussions at other UPU events like the CEO Forum and the Conference on Regulation, and then in each region at the UPU strategy conferences, which aim to ensure even greater relevance and inclusiveness.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The first Extraordinary Conference took place in Berne, Switzerland, in 1900. That Congress decided, among other things, to erect a commemorative monument.

Addis Ababa took decisions worthy of a monument.

I dedicate this monument to all who played a role in our success:

First of all, to Ethiopia, which invited us here and hosted this global event.

To the Congress Chair, chairmen and vice-chairmen, debate moderators, and facilitators. To the Chairman of the Council of Administration and the Chairman of the Postal Operations Council – Thank you.

To my colleagues on the Congress preparatory committee, the Directors of the International Bureau. Allow me to also acknowledge the secretaries and assistant secretaries, as well as all the experts, who spared no effort in supporting the work of this Congress.

To the Logistics Directorate and the talented IT team, who despite all the challenges over the past six months, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that this Congress would be a success, helping us to quickly resolve any glitches – Thank you.

Let us not forget the translators, other International Bureau staff and the assistants, who provide the necessary link to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Finally, the interpreters, who are like family: they enabled us to showcase our linguistic diversity in the six languages of the UN, and more.

As the New Year will start on 11 September in this wonderful country, I wish Ethiopia a Happy New Year, and all of you a safe journey home.

Press release


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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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