26th Congress of the Universal Postal Union - Istanbul

The 26th Congress of the UPU was held in Istanbul from last 20 September to 7 October, gathering about 2,000 representatives from nearly 150 member countries. As host country, Turkey automatically assumed the role of congress chair.

The Congress adopted the Istanbul Postal Strategy, a fundamental policy guidance tool for member countries with respect to implementation of the union’s mission from 2017 to 2020. It includes three strategic axes (innovation, integration and inclusion - the co-called three ‘i’s), subdivided into 15 programmes. The plenipotentiaries also adopted a new cooperation plan for UPU development in the 2017-2020 period.

More than 450 proposals were also analysed during the Congress, the result of work carried out over the last four years. The following stand out as the most significant decisions:

  • Adoption by the member states of a new compensation system. From 2018 on, letters with bulky formats and small packages, classified in format E category, will be compensated differently from what is applicable to other mail object formats;
    • Gradual approximation of the UPU member countries to the target system for terminal dues by accepting that the six current classification groups merge into four;
  • The Congress adopted by acclamation a proposed compromise on UPU reform which decided to postpone until 2018, at an extraordinary Congress, a substantive decision on reform of the Union, continuing until then the analysis and study of various associated questions that were not yet ready for a decision, specifically the concept of ‘single Council’. It was meanwhile decided to immediately implement for the next cycle a number of faster and more efficient working methods and concepts;
  • Future sustainability of the UPU pension fund was also analysed during this Congress. It was decided that the CA along with the International Bureau would conduct a study on means to ensure its stability and sustainability;
  • Approval of the financial plan for the next four-year period, whose annual spending limits and expenses associated to the next UPU Congress remained unchanged compared to the previous cycle;
  • Implementation of a new financing model meant to ensure more effective use of the service quality improvement fund, which aims to improve postal service quality in developing countries;
  • Signing of a new agreement on payment services applicable to the agreement’s signatory countries, which updates the previous version from 2012.

The Congress devoted 4 October to a ministerial conference with the theme of ‘implementation of sustainable development – connecting to citizens, companies and territories’, gathering more than 50 ministers connected to the postal sector. The main discussion topics were use of the postal network to stimulate social and financial inclusion, and the role of mail in facilitating global trade and in connecting clients to the digital world.

Regarding the Congress’s electoral processes, Ambassador Bishar A. Hussein of Kenya and Pascal Thierry Clivaz of Switzerland were re-elected by acclamation to the respective positions of director general and deputy director general for the 2017-2020 period.

Likewise elected were the members of the Council of Administration and the Postal Operations Council (POC) for the next four-year period, with Portugal notably elected to the POC. Turkey will chair the CA during the next cycle and Japan the POC.

Finally, Côte d’Ivoire, the only candidate country to hold the next UPU Congress, was chosen by acclamation and Abidjan will therefore host the 27th Congress in 2020. Also, the extraordinary Congress in 2018 will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, likewise the only candidate country for that event.