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Monday, March 15, 2010


Contents
I.            Introduction to the Universal Postal Union and its bodies................................................... 1
1             Universal Postal Union (UPU).............................................................................................................. 1
2             Organisation of the Union................................................................................................................... 1
3             Union Bodies..................................................................................................................................... 1
4             The UPU as a United Nations Specialised Agency................................................................................ 2
II.           Standards Board........................................................................................................................... 3
1             Introduction........................................................................................................................................ 3
2             Role of the Standards Board.............................................................................................................. 3
3             Membership....................................................................................................................................... 3
4             Observers in the Standards Board....................................................................................................... 4
5             Rules and procedures for external observers....................................................................................... 4
6             Permanent working groups of the Standards Board.............................................................................. 5
7             Standards support and administration................................................................................................. 5
III.          Working Groups within the Standards Board.......................................................................... 6
1             Introduction........................................................................................................................................ 6
2             Membership....................................................................................................................................... 6
3             Terms of reference of the permanent working groups........................................................................... 7
IV.          Contacts and addresses........................................................................................................... 12
1             Contacts within the UPU.................................................................................................................... 12
2             External Standards Organisations...................................................................................................... 14
V.           Standards approval process..................................................................................................... 15
1             Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 15
2             Overview.......................................................................................................................................... 15
3             Development of UPU Standards....................................................................................................... 17
VI.          Numbering and version control of standards........................................................................ 32
1             Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 32
2             Numbering of UPU Technical Standards............................................................................................ 32
3             Numbering of UPU EDI Messaging Standards................................................................................... 32
4             Numbering of other documents......................................................................................................... 33
5             Numbering of standards................................................................................................................... 33
6             Version control of standards............................................................................................................. 33
7             Issuance of new standards................................................................................................................ 33
8             Retiring older standards.................................................................................................................... 33
VII.        Publication of UPU standards................................................................................................... 34
1             Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 34
2             Publication of UPU standards........................................................................................................... 34
3             Maintenance of UPU standards......................................................................................................... 34

 
Postal services form part of the daily life of people all over the world. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is the specialised institution of the United Nations that regulates the universal postal service. The postal services of its 190 member countries form the largest physical distribution network in the world. Some 5 million postal employees working in over 660 000 post offices all over the world handle an annual total of 424 billion letter-post items in the domestic service and 6 billion in the international service. Some 4,4 billion parcels are sent by post annually. Keeping pace with the changing communications market, postal administrations are increasingly using new communication and information technologies to move beyond what is traditionally regarded as their core postal business. They are meeting higher customer expectations with an expanded range of products and value-added services.
Standards are important prerequisites for effective postal operations and for interconnecting the global network. The UPU's Standards Board develops and maintains a growing number of standards to improve the exchange of postal-related information between postal operators and promotes the compatibility of UPU and international postal initiatives. It works closely with postal handling organisations, customers, suppliers and other partners, including various international organisations. The Standards Board ensures that coherent standards are developed in areas such as electronic data interchange (EDI), mail encoding, postal forms and meters.
UPU standards are drafted in accordance with the rules given in Part V of the "General information on UPU standards" and are published by the UPU International Bureau in accordance with Part VII of that publication.

I.     Introduction to the Universal Postal Union and its bodies

1        Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) is the second oldest international organisation after the International Telecommunication Union.
With 189 member countries, the UPU is the primary forum for cooperation between postal services and helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services. In this way, the organisation fulfils an advisory, mediating and liaison role, and renders technical assistance where needed. It sets the rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations to stimulate growth in mail volumes and to improve the quality of service for customers.
However, as a non-political organisation, it does not interfere in matters that fall within the domestic domain of national postal services. For example, Posts set their own postage rates, decide which and how many postage stamps to issue, and how to manage their postal operations and staff.

2        Organisation of the Union

2.1     The Acts of the Union

The Constitution of the Universal Postal Union is the fundamental Act, setting forth the aims and containing the fundamental rules of the Union. It is a diplomatic Act that requires ratification by the competent authorities of each member country. Amendments to the Constitution can only be made at a UPU Congress and are also subject to ratification. Provisions relating to the application of the Constitution and to the operation of the Union are contained in the General Regulations.
The common rules applicable to the international postal service and the provisions concerning letter-post services are found in the Universal Postal Convention and its Detailed Regulations. As with the Constitution and the General Regulations, these two Acts are binding on all member countries. Separate optional Agreements, which are binding only on those member countries that are parties to them, govern the operations of postal parcels and postal financial services.

2.2     Membership of the Union

Any member of the United Nations may accede to the UPU. Sovereign countries which are not members of the UN may also become members of the UPU, provided that their request is approved by at least two-thirds of the member countries of the Union. There were 189 member countries of the UPU in 2003.

3        Union Bodies

3.1     Universal Postal Congress

The Universal Postal Congress, which brings together plenipotentiaries of all member countries, is the supreme authority of the Union and meets, in principle, every five years. Although Congress' main function is legislative, the recent tendency has been to delegate more regulatory power to the Council of Administration and of the Postal Operations Council (see 3.2 and 3.3), leaving Congress to focus more on broad policy issues. One of the highlights of recent Congresses is the General Debate, where key issues facing the UPU during the next five-year period are discussed and debated.
Among its other responsibilities, Congress elects the Director-General and the Deputy Director-General, as well as the members of the two Councils; it also sets the budget ceiling for the following five years.

3.2     The UPU Council of Administration

The Council of Administration (CA) consists of a Chairman and 40 member countries and meets in principle each year at UPU headquarters in Berne. It ensures the continuity of the Union's work between Congresses, supervises Union activities and studies regulatory, administrative, legislative and legal issues of interest to the Union. In order to ensure the UPU's ability to react quickly to changes in the postal environment, the CA has been given the power to approve proposals from the Postal Operations Council for the adoption of regulations or new procedures until the next Congress has taken a decision on the matter. The CA can also take measures within its competence that it considers necessary to resolve urgent affairs. The CA approves the annual budget and accounts of the Union, as well as yearly updates of the UPU's Programme and Budget. It is also responsible for promoting and coordinating all aspects of technical assistance among member countries.
The chairmanship of the Council of Administration is automatically assumed by the host country of the preceding Congress.

3.3     The UPU Postal Operations Council

The Postal Operations Council (POC) is the technical and operational body of the UPU and consists of 40 elected member countries. The POC deals with the operational, economic and commercial aspects of international postal services. At its first meeting after each Congress, the POC revises the Detailed Regulations. It promotes the introduction of new postal products by collecting, analyzing and publicizing the results of trials of new products undertaken by some postal services. It also prepares and issues recommendations to member countries concerning standards for technological, operational or other processes within its competence where uniformity of practice is essential. The POC's programme of work aims above all at helping postal services to modernise and upgrade their postal products, including not only letter post but also EMS, postal parcels and postal financial services.
The chairmanship of the POC for the period between Congresses is decided through election by the Council. Plenary sessions of the POC are held annually in Berne.

3.4     International Bureau

The International Bureau, established by the Treaty of Berne in 1874, is located in Berne, Switzerland and provides secretariat and support facilities for the UPU's bodies. It serves as an organ of liaison, information and consultation, and promotes technical cooperation among Union members. It also acts as a clearing house for the settlement of accounts between postal administrations for inter-administration charges related to the exchange of postal items and international reply coupons.
The International Bureau is responsible for ensuring the representation of the Union in its external relations, notably with international organisations. However, it does not intervene in relations between postal administrations and their customers.

4        The UPU as a United Nations Specialised Agency

The UPU became a specialised agency of the United Nations on 1 July 1948. Since then its relations and active cooperation with other international bodies have grown and intensified. The UPU maintains particularly close ties with United Nations programmes such as UNDP (UN Development Programme), UNIDCP (UN International Drug Control Programme) and UNEP (UN Environment Programme); with specialised agencies including ITU (International Telecommunication Union), ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), WHO (World Health Organization), UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and WTO (World Trade Organization); and with such non-governmental international organisations as IATA (International Air Transport Association), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), CEN (European Commission for Standardisation), WCO (World Customs Organization), and INTERPOL.
 


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