The Universal Postal Union’s new leadership team was officially sworn in this week, at UPU headquarters in Berne.
Kenya’s Bishar A Hussein took over his role as UPU director general and Switzerland’s Pascal Clivaz the deputy director general role at a special inauguration ceremony.
The pair were elected to the position back in October at the UPU’s Congress in Doha, succeeding Edouard Dayan and Guozhong Huang after they reached their term limits.
Addressing the member countries of the UN-affiliated agency during the inauguration ceremony, Hussein said he was committed to strengthening the global postal network, ensuring all countries are fully integrated into the postal community.
As the first director general from sub-Saharan Africa, Hussein said the universal nature of the UPU was something he held dear.
“I am fully aware of the expectations of developing countries, small island states and other countries that need the UPU to move forward and fully integrate into the postal community,” said the former Kenyan postmaster general and diplomat.
“As we focus on the major challenges facing the developing countries, we will not lose sight of the special needs of the industrialized countries, which are an important driving force for our organization. In order for us to develop a totally integrated global postal network, we must address the needs of all UPU member countries in an inclusive manner.”
Clivaz, who was previously UPU director of finance and strategy, spoke during his inauguration address of the global postal sector being “at a crossroads” as social and societal customs change and technology evolves.
“Consumption patterns are ever changing, and economic constraints have caused many to rethink their public investments,” he said. “Consequently, within the framework of a renewed pact for the sector, we must offer new openings, innovations and opportunities, so that the postal sector becomes not only an instrument of public power, but also a preferred lever for economic players.”
The UPU has a budget of about $40m USD to support global postal policy and the development of postal services through its 192 member countries.
Hussein and Clivaz now lead the UPU’s International Bureau for a four-year term, until the next UPU Congress takes place in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2016.
They will direct the implementation of the Doha Postal Strategy, the roadmap for the UPU’s work over the next three years, which was adopted at the Doha Congress.
Hussein said the strategy put forward a “strong vision” of the postal sector as “an essential component of the global economy”.
“As director general, it will my duty to implement this strategy in an efficient manner, for the benefit of all member countries,” he said.
Clivaz said the Doha strategy offered “reason for optimism”, pushing development for the sector in three main dimensions – physical post, financial services and digital technology.
He stressed the need for harmonised standards to drive the vision of the Doha strategy, but also for the global postal industry to maintain the “capital of trust” it currently enjoys among the public.
“More than ever before, national and regional economies require solutions that are harmonized, standardized, secure, functional, and local: there is no doubt that the Universal Postal Union possesses all of the necessary attributes to make this vision a reality,” he said.
“But for this we will need to maintain the capital of trust we enjoy. Trust in our ability to create the necessary conditions, but also trust in our daily activities. And trust in our ability to create the vital added value, which is synonymous with sustainability. This is why it is essential that the leaders be left to manage on a day-to-day basis, so that all energies can be fully harnessed to serve the general interest.”
Other key figures within the UPU’s new leadership from this month include Masahiko Metoki of Japan, the vice president of international affairs at Japan Post, who now chairs the UPU Postal Operations Council, and Abdul Rahman Ali Al Aqaily, the chairman of Qatar Post, who now chairs the Council of Administration.