Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Union postale universelle (UPU)
Unión Postal Universal (UPU)

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Contact Details

URL: http://www.upu.int/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/universal-postal-union
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/universal_postal_union
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/universalpostalunion/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/UniversalPostalUnion
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UPU_UN

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1874-10-09 Bern Switzerland


Established on signature by 22 countries of Treaty concerning the establishment of a General Postal Union (Bern Treaty) – Traité concernant la création d'une Union générale des postes (Traité de Berne) – Tratado concerniente a la creación de una Unión General de Correos (Tratado de Berna). The Treaty came into force 1 Jul 1875 (in the case of France, 1 Jan 1876).

Since 1 Jul 1948, UPU is a Specialized Agency of A-XA3375 - United Nations (UN) within the framework of F-XF1000 - United Nations System, linked to E-XE3377 - ECOSOC. UPU Constitution (incorporating the General Regulations, the Convention and its Detailed Regulations) is a diplomatic convention ratified by the appropriate authority in each member country. Amendments may only be made at Congress and are recorded in an Additional Protocol, which is also subject to ratification. Resolutions, decisions, recommendations and formal opinions, together with UPU Acts proper, make up the Decisions of Congress. To these is added the Agreement making the UPU a specialized agency of the UN and defining relations between the two organizations. This Agreement is annexed to the Constitution and determines the conditions of any amendment to it.

The current Constitution, was adopted by 15th Congress, 1964, Vienna (Austria), and has been in force since 1 Jan 1966. There have been 7 Additional Protocols, adopted at the following Congresses: 1969, Tokyo (Japan); 1974, Lausanne (Switzerland); 1984, Hamburg (Germany FR); 1989, Washington DC (USA); 1994, Seoul (Korea Rep); 1999, Beijing (China); 2004, Bucharest (Romania). The 1999 protocol came into force on 1 Jan 2001; 2004 protocol came into force on 1 Jan 2006; 2008 protocol comes into force on 1 Jan 2010.

Constitution registered in 'UNTS 1/8844'.


Ensure organization and development of postal services; promote development of communication among peoples by efficient operation of postal services; contribute to international collaboration in the cultural, social and economic fields; ensure that all postal users/customers enjoy the right to a universal postal service; participate in the provision of technical assistance as requested by member countries; ensure the interoperability of postal networks by implementing a suitable policy of standardization; meet the changing needs of postal customers; improve the quality of postal services.


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'Universal Postal Congress' (every 4 years) is the supreme authority, focusing on broad policy issues and comprising representatives of all member countries. Regulatory power is increasingly being delegated to K-XK1230 - UPU Council of Administration (CA), meeting annually at UPU headquarters, Bern (Switzerland), comprises 41 members elected by Congress, plus Chairman appointed by the host country of the previous Congress. It ensures continuity of UPU work between Congresses, supervises Union activities and studies regulatory, administrative, legislative and legal issues of interest to the Union. In order to ensure UPU's ability to react quickly to changes in the postal environment, CA has power to approve proposals from the Postal Operations Council for adoption of regulations or new procedures until the next Congress has taken a decision on the matter. It may also take measures within its competence that it considers necessary to resolve urgent affairs. CA approves the UPU biennial budget, accounts and the yearly update of strategic planning.

In addition to the Management Committee, which prepares and coordinates the CA sessions, and the Strategic Planning Group, which advises the CA as well as the POC on strategic planning, there are: /CA Committees/ (4): 'Committee 1 - Governance Issues', including: Reform of the Union; Acts of the Union; Universal Postal Service; Interconnectivity; Terminal Dues Governance; 'Committee 2 - Joint CA/POC Committee - Development and Cooperation', including: Sustainable Development; Postal Economics; Technical Cooperation and Postal Reform and E-Commerce Development; 'Committee 3 - Finance and Administration'; 'Committee 4 - Joint CA/POC Committee - UPU Strategy', including: Strategy Planning; Strategy Implementation; Strategy Reporting.

K-XK1229 - Postal Operations Council (POC) (meeting annually, at UPU Headquarters in Bern) is the technical and operational body, comprising national postal administrations of 40 countries, elected by Congress. It deals with operational, economic and commercial aspects of international postal services. The first POC meeting after each Congress revises the Detailed Regulations. POC aims to help postal services to modernize and upgrade their postal products, including letter post, EMS, postal parcels and postal financial services. It promotes introduction of new postal products by collecting, analysing and publicizing results of postal services' experiments and prepares, and issues recommendations to member countries concerning standards for technological, operational or other processes within its competence where practice of uniformity is essential.

'Strategic Planning Group' - advises CA and POC.

/POC Committees/ (4): 'Letter Post', including: Product Development and Marketing Group; Remuneration Group; D-XD8031 - World Association for the Development of Philately (WADP); Direct Mail Advisory Board; Quality Improvement Group; Transport Group; Quality of Service Link User Group. 'Parcels', including: Product Development and Marketing Group; Quality Improvement Group; Remuneration Group; Customs Group. 'Postal Financial Services', including: Development Group; Multilateral Framework Group; Financial Relations Group. 'Standards and Technology', including Standards Board; Addressing Group; E-Services Group; Operations and Accounting Review Group. 'Direct Reporting Bodies': Postal Security Group; QSF Board; UPU Clearing Group; EMS Cooperative; Telematics Cooperative.

Consultative Committee, created 16 Sep 2004, gives postal stakeholders other than public postal operators and regulators a voice in the organization's deliberations. It consists of NGOs representing customers, suppliers of goods and services to the postal sector and other organizations that have an interest in international postal services, including direct marketers, private operators, international mailers and printers.

'International Bureau (IB)', established in 1874 by the Treaty of Bern, is based in Bern. It provides secretariat and support facilities for UPU bodies, acting as organ of liaison, information and consultation and promoting technical cooperation among UPU members. It also acts as clearinghouse for settlement of accounts between postal administrations for inter-administration charges related to exchange of postal items and international reply coupons and is responsible for ensuring UPU representation in external relations, notably with international organizations. It does not intervene between designated postal operators and their customers.

/Directorates and Units under the supervision of the Director-General/:

  • Directorate - Director General's Office, Strategic Planning and Communication;
  • Legal Affairs Directorate and Ethics Office (DAJ);
  • Environment and Sustainable Development (PEDD);
  • Internal Audit;
  • Operations and Technology Directorate;
  • Economic and Regulatory Affairs Directorate;
  • Markets Development Directorate;
  • Finance Directorate;
  • Logistics Directorate;
  • Human Resources and Social Relations Directorate;
  • Development Cooperation Directorate.


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Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

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UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure



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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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