The XXVI Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), held in Istanbul (Turkey) from 20 September to 7 October 2016, brought together around 2000 representatives from aproximately 150 member countries. As host country, Turkey automatically took the role of Chair.
This was also the first Congress with a focus on being environmentally friendly, with the availability of supporting documentation in electronic format only expected to save about 4 tons of paper.
The Congress adopted the World Postal Strategy (WPS), a key document providing policy guidance for member states in terms of the accomplishment of its mission between 2017 and 2010, incorporating 3 strategic pillars (innovation, integration and inclusion - the 3 i's) - subdivided into 15 programmes. In honour of the host country, the WPS will be known as the "Istanbul Postal Strategy".
The plenipotentiaries also adopted the new UPU’s development cooperation policy for the 2017-2020 period, based on the integration of the Union's development priorities with the priorities of the United Nations sustainable development goals, particularly in areas of financial inclusion and facilitation of trade.
Additionally, the Congress analysed over 450 proposals, the result of work done over the previous four years, and took the following key decisions:
- Adoption of a new remuneration system by member countries. From 2018, the compensation applicable to large-format letters and small packages, classified as E format, will differ from compensation applicable to other formats of correspondence objects.
- The gradual move of UPU member countries towards the target terminal dues system - which consists of the remuneration payed between operators for the provision of the international postal service - by agreeing to merge the current six classification groups into four groups. From 2018, previous groups 1.2 and 2 will be merged into a new group II and groups 4 and 5 will constitute group IV.
- The adoption, by acclamation, of a compromise proposal on the reform of the UPU, whereby it was decided to postpone a substantive decision on the reform of the Union until 2018, to be taken at an Extraordinary Congress. Until then, analysis and study will continue, focusing on several issues which were not ready for decision, in particular the "single council" concept. However, for the next cycle, it was decided to directly implement a set of concepts and working methods which are more expeditious and efficient, such as permanent groups, task-forces open to all member countries and the possibility of continuing work between council sessions electronically. The Council of Administration (CA) and the Postal Operations Council (POC) will meet twice a year, for a maximum period of ten days.
- The future sustainability of the UPU Provident Fund, whereby it was decided that the CA, in conjunction with the International Secretariat (IS), will carry out a study on ways to ensure the stability and sustainability of the Provident Fund and examine options for subsequent reform. However, the IS should continue to inject any amounts necessary to amortise any technical deficit of the Union Providence Fund.
- Approval of the financial plan for the next four years, setting limits on the annual costs and expenses associated with the next Congress, which remain unchanged compared to the figures of the previous cycle. A number of member countries have reduced the respective number of contribution units (24 in total), which will mean a reduction in contributions to the Union budget and a need to prioritise approved activities in line with the availability of funds.
- The implementation of a new funding model that aims to ensure more effective use of the UPU's Quality of Service Fund, seeking to improve the quality of postal services in developing countries.
- The signing of the new payment services agreement applicable to the respective signatory countries, which updates the previous version of 2012.
A Ministerial Conference on "Delivering Sustainable Development: Connecting Citizens, Businesses and Territories", held on 4 October, brought together more than 50 ministers linked to the postal sector. The main topics of debate included use of the postal network to foster development through social and financial inclusion, the role of post offices in facilitating and driving world trade, and the connection of customers to the digital world.
As a result of the elections held during this Congress, Ambassador Bishar A. Hussein (Kenya) and Pascal Thierry Clivaz (Switzerland) were re-elected by acclamation, respectively as Director General and Deputy Director General for the period 2017-2020.
Furthermore, the members of the CA and the POC were elected for the next four years, including Portugal as an elected member of the POC. During this cycle, Turkey will chair the CA and Japan will chair the POC.
The last days of the Congress were devoted to the plenary sessions and constituent meetings of the CA and the POC.
Finally, the Ivory Coast, as the only candidate country to host the next UPU Congress, was elected by acclamation and will host the 27th edition of the event in 2020 in Abidjan. Meanwhile, an extraordinary Congress will take place in 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that was also the only candidate country to host this event.
- 26th Universal Postal Union Congress https://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=1395303
- 26th Universal Postal Congress http://congress2016.upu.int/congress/