Universal Postal Union
Overview
 
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is an international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

 that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB). It also oversees two cooperatives including the Telematics and EMS Cooperatives respectively.
Encyclopedia
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is an international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

 that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB). It also oversees two cooperatives including the Telematics and EMS Cooperatives respectively. Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties. The UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.

French is the official language of the UPU. English was added as a working language in 1994. The majority of the UPU's documents and publications – including its flagship magazine, Union Postale - are available in the United Nations' official languages.

Overview

Prior to the establishment of the UPU, each country had to prepare a separate postal treaty with other nations it wished to carry international mail to or from. To simplify the complexity of this system, the United States called for an International Postal Congress in 1863. This led Heinrich von Stephan
Heinrich von Stephan
Heinrich von Stephan was a general post director for the German Empire who reorganized the German postal service. He was integral in the founding of the Universal Postal Union in 1874, and in 1877 introduced the telephone to Germany.Stephan was born in Stolp , Pomerania, in the Kingdom of Prussia...

, Royal Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 and later German Minister for Posts, to found the Universal Postal Union. It is currently the third oldest international organization after the Rhine Commission
Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine
The Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine is an international organization whose function is to encourage European prosperity by guaranteeing a high level of security for navigation of the Rhine and environs...

 and the ITU
International Telecommunication Union
The International Telecommunication Union is the specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for information and communication technologies...

. The UPU was created in 1874, initially under the name "General Postal Union", as a result of the Treaty of Bern
Treaty of Bern
The Treaty of Bern, signed in 1874, established the General Postal Union, which is today known as the Universal Postal Union.Named for the Swiss city of Bern, where it was signed, the treaty was the result of an international conference convened by the Swiss Government on September 15, 1874. It was...

 signed on October 9, 1874. Four years later, the name was changed to "Universal Postal Union."

The UPU established that:
  1. There should be a uniform flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world
  2. Postal authorities should give equal treatment to foreign and domestic mail
  3. Each country should retain all money it has collected for international postage.


One of the most important results of the UPU Treaty was that it ceased to be necessary, as it often had been previously, to affix the stamps
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 of any country through which one's letter or package would pass in transit. The UPU provides that stamps of member nations are accepted for the entire international route.

After the foundation of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the UPU became a specialized agency of the UN in 1948. In 1969, the UPU introduced a new system of payment where fees were payable between countries according to the difference in the total weight of mail between them. These fees were called terminal dues. Ultimately, this new system was fairer when traffic was heavier in one direction than the other. As this affected the cost of the delivery of periodicals, the UPU devised a new "threshold" system, which it later implemented in 1991.

The system sets separate letter and periodical rates for countries which receive at least 150 tons of mail annually. For countries with less mail, the original flat rate is still maintained. The United States has negotiated a separate terminal dues formula with thirteen European countries that includes a rate per piece plus a rate per kilogram; it has a similar arrangement with Canada. The UPU also operates the system of International Reply Coupon
International reply coupon
An international reply coupon is a coupon that can be exchanged for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an unregistered priority airmail letter of up to twenty grams sent to another Universal Postal Union member country...

s and addresses concerns with ETOEs
Extraterritorial Office of Exchange
An Extraterritorial Office of Exchange is a commercially-oriented office or facility operated by or in connection with a postal operator in a country other than its parent country...

.

Standards

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 international standards to improve the exchange of postal-related information between postal operators. It also promotes the compatibility of UPU and international postal initiatives. The organization works closely with postal handling organizations, customers, suppliers and other partners, including various international organizations. The Standards Board ensures that coherent regulations are developed in areas such as Electronic Data Interchange
Electronic Data Interchange
Electronic data interchange is the structured transmission of data between organizations by electronic means. It is used to transfer electronic documents or business data from one computer system to another computer system, i.e...

 (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.

Member countries

The United Nations member states
United Nations member states
There are 193 United Nations member states, and each of them is a member of the United Nations General Assembly.The criteria for admission of new members are set out in the United Nations Charter, Chapter II, Article 4, as follows:...

 are all allowed to become members of the UPU. A non-member state of the United Nations may also become a member if two-thirds of the UPU member countries approve its request.

Member states of the UPU are 193 of the UN members and the Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

. The newest member is South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, which joined on 4 October 2011.

The non-state members are Aruba
Aruba
Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

, Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 and Sint Maarten, which are represented as a single UPU member, and the British overseas territories
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

, which are represented as a single UPU member. The UPU currently has 192 members (190 states and 2 joint memberships of dependent territories groups).

Palestine
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 was granted special observer status to the UPU in 1999, and in 2008 Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 agreed for its mail to be routed through Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. Palestine will likely be upgraded to full membership in the near future.

Non-members of UPU are Andorra
Andorra
Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...

, Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

, Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

, the Federated States of Micronesia
Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia or FSM is an independent, sovereign island nation, made up of four states from west to east: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. It comprises approximately 607 islands with c...

, Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

, Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 and the rest of the states with limited recognition. Cook Islands and Niue are represented by New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 (they are in free association
Associated state
An associated state is the minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a nation, for which no other specific term, such as protectorate, is adopted...

 with it). Andorra, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau have their mail delivered through another UPU member (the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for the Compact of Free Association
Compact of Free Association
The Compact of Free Association defines the relationship that three sovereign states—the Federated States of Micronesia , the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau—have entered into as associated states with the United States.Now sovereign nations, the three freely associated...

 states and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 for Andorra.

The Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 joined the UPU on March 1, 1914. After the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 was founded, the Republic of China continued to represent China in the UPU, until the organization decided on April 13, 1972 to recognize the People's Republic of China as the only legitimate Chinese representative. Because of this, International Reply Coupon
International reply coupon
An international reply coupon is a coupon that can be exchanged for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an unregistered priority airmail letter of up to twenty grams sent to another Universal Postal Union member country...

s are not available for Taiwan. Mail addressed to Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 is still delivered there, albeit through a third country.

The other states with limited recognition such as Somaliland
Somaliland
Somaliland is an unrecognised self-declared sovereign state that is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia. The government of Somaliland regards itself as the successor state to the British Somaliland protectorate, which was independent for a few days in 1960 as the State of...

 and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus or North Cyprus , officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus , is a self-declared state that comprises the northeastern part of the island of Cyprus...

 (TRNC) also route their mail through third countries because the UPU will not allow direct international deliveries. For example, the TRNC's mail goes via Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Somaliland's mail via Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

).

Congresses

The Universal Postal Congress is the most important body of the UPU. The main purpose of the quadrennial Congress is to examine proposals to amend the Acts of the UPU, including the UPU Constitution, General Regulations, Convention and Postal Payment Services Agreement. The Congress also serves as forum for participating member countries to discuss a broad range of issues impacting international postal services, such market trends, regulation and other strategic issues. The first UPU Congress was held in Bern, Switzerland in 1874. Delegates from 22 countries participated. UPU Congresses are held every four years and delegates often receive special philatelic albums produced by member countries covering the period since the previous Congress.

Philatelic activities

The Universal Postal Union, in conjunction with the World Association for the Development of Philately
Fédération Internationale de Philatélie
The Fédération Internationale de Philatélie was founded on June 18, 1926 and is the world federation for philately based in Zürich, Switzerland.- Aims :The primary aims of the FIP are:*To promote stamp collecting and philately....

, developed the WADP Numbering System
WADP Numbering System
The WADP Numbering System is a project referencing postal stamps issued in the world since 1 January 2002. It is monitored by the World Association for the Development of Philately and the Universal Postal Union...

 (WNS). It was launched on January 1, 2002. The website displays entries for some 160 countries and emitting postal entities, with over 25,000 registered stamps since 2002. Many of them have images, which generally remain copyrighted by the issuing country, but the UPU and WADP permit them to be downloaded.

Telegraph

In some countries telegraph and later telephones came under the same government department as the postal system. Similarly there was a International Telegraph Bureau, based in Bern, akin to the UPU.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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