The 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, unanimously approved the hosting of an Extraordinary Congress to decide on plans for opening up the UPU to wider postal sector players (WPSPs).Hosting an Extraordinary Congress was one of a series of proposals put forward by a special UPU task force created in 2019 to study the possibility of engaging wider postal sector players in the UPU’s activities. As part of the approved proposal, the UPU’s Council of Administration (CA) will be responsible for presenting a concrete, step-by-step opening plan considering future structural changes, wider postal sector participation methodology, and a corresponding financial contribution model. That plan will be presented to the 2023 Extraordinary Congress for a decision.
Mutua Muthusi, Director of the UPU’s Executive Office and Secretary of the Congress Committee that passed the proposal said, "The decision made by Congress shows that countries are now united on the importance of opening up the UPU so that the organization can keep pace with transformations taking place across the sector. I expect the 2023 Extraordinary Congress will provide a clear way forward for the UPU to embrace the entire postal industry.”
More immediately, the UPU will reform its Consultative Committee – a UPU body that allows wider sector players to contribute to UPU dialogue, but without participating in decision-making processes – to allow more flexibility to those wider postal sectors wishing to participate. This includes the introduction of additional membership groups.
As an intergovernmental organization, the UPU’s membership has traditionally been restricted to government entities and postal operators designated by governments – also known as designated operators. However, the sector has broadened, with many non-designated operators entering the market and taking on the bulk of new business opportunities such as parcels and express services. Postal operators also need to work with many other wider postal sector players across the supply chain, such as transport and customs partners.
Discussions on opening the UPU to wider sector players have developed over more than 20 years. The discussion was initiated during the 1999 Congress in Beijing, with members taking the first concrete step in 2004, establishing the Consultative Committee during the Bucharest Congress. The 2016 Istanbul Congress relaunched the discussion, approving a resolution on access to UPU products and services by other players.
Though the Istanbul Cycle initiated the opening of UPU products and services, the work was more complex than envisioned and could not be completed before the most recent Congress. However, the UPU did succeed in opening up several products and services to wider sector players, namely supply chain-related IT services to priority partners whose access to them would improve the efficiency of transport and security across the postal network.