UPU’s Postal Security Group reveals the winner of second-ever Chair’s Award

The Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) Postal Security Group (PSG) has announced that Cristian Nazareno Cuccaro, Head of the Aeropostal Security Department at Correo Argentino, has been selected as the second-ever winner of its Chair’s Award thanks to his role in facilitating successful postal security certifications for administrations in Latin America. 

The award winner was officially announced during PSG’s meeting on March 1. The award was launched in 2021 to recognize significant contributions to the advancement of security in the postal sector on a regional and international level. Cuccaro was chosen as this year’s winner following independent evaluation and average scoring by a five-person judging panel.

Cuccaro triumphed thanks to his role in providing continued mentorship, training, and guidance on the certification process for UPU security standards S58 and S59. His work has led to increased understanding of postal security within the region and around the world. 

The award not only recognizes the hard work of individuals seeking to enhance security within the postal sector, but it also acts as a showcase for some of the leading projects being undertaken by PSG. The group’s main aim is to “establish worldwide postal security, encourage and promote the creation of postal security services in all UPU member countries, and to establish contact and collaborate with international organizations.”

Gary Barksdale, UPU PSG Chair and Chief Postal Inspector at the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), says: “Ensuring the safety and security of mail from origin to delivery is a task undertaken by all designated operators and the Postal Security Group works to provide the tools, standards, education, and knowledge to every designated operator to fulfill that mission.” 

All 192 UPU members are invited to attend the PSG, which meets bi-annually. In addition to raising awareness concerning the latest postal security issues and standards, PSG also provides training initiatives and materials. One partner the PSG has been working closely with since 2018 is the International Narcotics Control Board – an independent monitoring body for the implementation of the UN international drug control conventions. 

The UPU and the INCB, along with the World Customs Organization (WCO), the USPIS and other concerned countries, have developed awareness-raising and training materials on the safe handling and interdiction methods for fentanyl-related substances in mail channels.

INCB GRIDS OPIOIDS Project Manager, Matthew Nice, says, “The UPU is a global leader in international postal security and through our close partnership, INCB has expanded joint efforts to support capacity building, security networking, and information exchange that protect postal operations in every country and secure global supply chains.”

The UPU’s Postal Security Programme is funded both by regular UPU budget and extra-budgetary funds. “We currently have funds and support from the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and US Tied Funds, which support electronic advance data (EAD) and security activities across the UPU for the members and their Designated Postal Operators (DPOs),” explains Dawn Wilkes, Postal Security Programme Manager at the UPU. 

INL funds have been used to fund a capacity building project, which is set to conclude in December 2023. The PSG Chair’s Award winner, Cuccaro, is one of the big success stories from this project. The joint UPU-INL capacity building project was launched in 2019 with the aim of developing the human resource capacity of member countries in UPU security standards.

The project was targeted at countries in Asia Pacific, the Caribbean and Latin America and set out to create sustainability and independence within these regions by giving the knowledge and skills needed to properly take ownership of their postal security operations.

“The project has successfully created well trained pools of regional security experts in all three regions and has led to the ramp up of security certifications in all three regions,” says Pooran Parampath, Regional Expert, Caribbean, and Capacity Building, at the UPU. “Additionally, these regional experts are now adding value in other regions, such as Africa and the Middle East, by lending their expertise to train their counterparts and by conducting field missions to assess security operations.”

Alongside the INL capacity building project, PSG is also working on several other key projects, as Wilkes explains: “Our current priorities focus on the mitigation of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and illicit drugs in the postal supply chain, building collaboration with external partners to provide capacity building to our members, and raising awareness of road safety and illicit goods in the postal supply chain.”  

For road safety, PSG has recently set up a Road Safety Expert Team to identify and analyze the challenges faced by designated operators in this area. The team, which will work on the project until 2025, will also identify avenues to increase collaboration with external stakeholders to leverage available training and materials to enhance operators’ understanding of road safety. 

“The PSG’s most recent activity occurred at our meeting on 1 March, where the UPU signed an MoU with Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT),” adds Wilkes. “At the meeting we also provided security certifications to those countries which successfully completed the S58 and S59 review process.”


More about the new partnership between the UPU and TRACIT as well as the Post’s role in combating illicit trade – on our latest Voice Mail podcast with TRACIT’s Director General Jeffrey Hardy. 

Learn more about the UPU’s Postal Security Group and standards by clicking here.