UPU factsheet on the Second Extraordinary Congress

03.09.2018 - Every four years plenipotentiaries from the Universal Postal Union’s 192 member countries come together at the Universal Postal Congress to make changes to the UPU’s rules and decide its strategy and priorities for the next four-year work cycle.

An Extraordinary Congress may be requested between regular Congresses with the support of at least two-thirds of the UPU’s member countries. The first time this occurred was in 1900 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UPU in Berne, Switzerland.

During the 26th Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul in 2016, member countries decided to meet for a second Extraordinary Congress, to be held from 3–7 September 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was called to take decisions on issues that member countries determined needed further study, but which were too important to the development of the postal sector and the sustainability of the UPU to delay until the next Universal Postal Congress in 2020.

Implementation of the IPP and IRP

The UPU Acts define the services that designated postal operators (Posts) provide to customers, and the rates at which receiving Posts charge sending Posts for the handling and delivery of international postal items. 

The growth in the cross-border e-commerce market provides an exciting new business opportunity for Posts.  In order to take advantage of this opportunity, the UPU portfolio of postal services and their respective rates have to be continuously reviewed and modernized to cater for changing customer needs throughout the world.   

The Integrated Product Plan (IPP) and the Integrated Remuneration Plan (IRP) together will foster a more sustainable postal network and enable all Posts to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities. They will achieve this by:

  • modernizing the portfolio of UPU products and services to ensure that they meet current customer needs;
  • setting out new and progressive requirements for advance data to ensure that postal items move through the supply chain as quickly as possible;
  • modernizing remuneration systems to ensure cost coverage so that postal services remain affordable and competitive; 
  • creating a framework for regularly evaluating the product and service needs of the postal market.

The 26th Universal Postal Congress agreed on the classification of items by content, with specific rates to reflect the growing number of goods being shipped as small packets and the cost of handling and delivering them. It also agreed to introduce barcodes on small packets containing goods, which will be used to com­municate vital electronic advance data (EAD) between supply chain partners, ensuring that goods can pass through the mail stream uninterrupted. This requirement will put member countries ahead of the curve when it comes to new advance data legislation scheduled to come into effect by 2021.

The Extraordinary Congress will be asked to decide on a new portfolio of postal services and on a plan to further improve and integrate both postal services and their related remuneration systems, taking account of the needs of the modern postal customer.

Reform of the UPU

The current structure of the UPU was established during the 1994 Universal Postal Congress in Seoul. Reform has been on the minds of member countries ever since, with each successive Congress instructing the Council of Administration (CA) to study ways to further improve the Union’s efficiency.

Reform is necessary to:

  • promote faster decision making and greater efficiency;
  • ensure equitable representation of member countries and regions;
  • secure the effective management of resources;
  • enhance the role and relevance of the UPU.

The Istanbul Congress decided to implement several reform measures to boost the efficiency of the Union’s work. For example, it adopted a new set of working principles as a basis for the structures and decision-making processes of its governmental and operational pillars, organized shorter meeting sessions with more focus on decision-making and established an ad hoc group of member countries and the CA to study further reform measures. This ad hoc group submitted a proposal to the 2018 Extraordinary Congress with the following suggestions:

  • Maintain the intergovernmental nature of the UPU;
  • Keep a functional separation between the CA and the Postal Operations Council (POC);
  • Simplify the election process for the POC;
  • In addition to qualified representation, ensure equitable representation of each region in the POC, as is already done in the CA;
  • Formalize a coordinating body between the CA and POC.

To watch the Extraordinary Congress via live streaming, please go to: webtv.un.org

For further information, please contact:

David Dadge

Manager, Communication and Events Programme

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Executive Office Directorate

T + 251944325227


Press release


Comments (1)

  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
    Test comment.

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