The UPU is an inter-governmental organization and was the first-ever forum created to facilitate cooperation between governments, actors, and stakeholders within the global postal sector. Today, the UPU is known for being one of the oldest international organizations in the world, which continues to develop international postal service harmony for over 190 countries.
The UPU was established as before its founding, countries had to go through long, difficult negotiations to agree on how mail should be handled and delivered in their respective countries. Often, due to a lack of agreements, mail had to go through an intermediatory country, making the delivery of mail very complicated. As the world becomes increasingly interlinked, these processes became even more complex and there was a need for an independent regulatory body that could make the process smoother. Also, there was a need for multi-country agreements to open up postal services universally.
Therefore, the UPU was established in 1874 and today has its headquarters located in, Berne, the capital of Switzerland. However, it is a truly global organization, which works to maintain a universal postal network, as well as continue to establish common rules for international mail exchange between its members, whilst improving the quality of service for postal customers.
The UPU consists of some 192 members, each of which represents one country, with the organization being the mediatory forum for cooperation between postal sector players. Its role acts to solidify a universal network of up-to-date postal services which harness the rapidly evolving technology and digital advancements in the sector.
The organization acts in an advisory role, liaising between members and provides technical assistance where it is required. The UPU establishes the rules for international mail exchange and makes recommendations (such as the successful EMS postal development) which it believes will be a catalyst for growth in package/mail delivery and financial services.
The UPU is open to any country which is a member of the United Nations. A non-United Nations member may become part of the UPU as long as the request is approved by two-thirds or more of countries with UPU membership. As the UPU currently has 192 members, this would mean that at least 128 countries would need to agree to allow the non-United Nations member to become a UPU member.
The UPU does not handle mail themselves, instead, they are an international organization that helps develop the postal industry. Sometimes the UPU is mistaken for a postal service or courier, such as USPS or UPS. Although it works with these parcel delivery companies, as well as other national postal services, international organizations, and governments, it does not handle any mail itself.
As the UPU does not deliver any mail personally, it would be impossible to track a UPU parcel. However, if you ever need to track a parcel, you can do so with the universal parcel tracking tool from Ship24. Universal parcel tracking on over 900 couriers and thousands of online shops is available through the Ship24 website, for both businesses and individuals. Check out the website today to find out more.
The UPU consists of four different subsections, namely the Congress, the council of administration, the postal operations council, and the international bureau. Each is responsible for different roles within the organization which in turn, manage different levels and areas of international postal affairs.
The UPU is an intergovernmental organization, whose primary stakeholders are member governments and therefore it receives funding from those governments to function. Several governments within the UPU also support the organization with extra voluntary contributions for particular programs or initiatives led by the UPU. It should be noted that these voluntary contributions and the programs which they fund are managed by the UPU international bureau.
Traditionally, they included activities such as disaster risk management and sustainable development but more recently have included financial inclusion and e-commerce development.
Other UPU activities include capacity building and human resources, security, IT solutions, customs processing efficiency, and postal service innovation.
The UPU, as a member of the United Nations, works together with international organizations, NGOs, governments, and the private sector to help on issues of common interest. For instance, the UPU is involved in helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a development framework agreed on between UN member countries in 2015 and is set to be completed in 2030.
So far, the UPU has worked on Financial inclusion with the World Bank, Trade facilitation and e-commerce with the World Trade Organization, developing remittances with the IOM, security, and transport with UNODC, Customs with the WCO, climate change and sustainability with the UNEP, and disaster/risk management with the UNDRR, among others.
The UPU has also begun working with NGOs, private foundations, and the private sector to continue to improve international postal services. Concerning the former, the UPU has worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve financial inclusion and promote inclusive access to financial services for underserved global regions. Regarding the latter, the private sector has started to contribute more and more to discussions and decisions in most UN bodies, funds, programs, and specialized agencies, including the UPU.
The UPU's work is to keep up to date with what is a rapidly developing communications market and postal services industry. With digital now dominating communication, postal operators are having to continue to adapt to continue to service stakeholders. This means constantly developing new products and services to meet rising expectations in an ever more competitive sector.
An example of how the UPU is helping support global initiatives is through its founding partnership of the eTrade for All initiative with UNCTAD. The UPU also continues to support the introduction and application of e-commerce strategy between the relevant stakeholders, but also while ensuring postal services are a key delivery partner.
One of the most well-known eCommerce and postal partnership developments is through the Express Mail Service (EMS) which is an international postal service. It is now offered by many national postal services, such as the China Postand Japan Post, among others.
All EMS and normal parcels delivered, whether by national postal services or private couriers, can be tracked through the Ship24 universal tracking tool on their website. Simply copy and paste your parcel tracking number into the website for multi-courier, superior tracking capability.