UPU: new congress date announced

UPU: new congress date announced

 The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has agreed to postpone its 27th Universal Postal Congress until August 2021 when it will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 

Speaking about the decision, the Director General of UPU, Bishar A. Hussein, said, “I am pleased that the spirit of consensus—the historic cornerstone of UPU’s global efforts—has enabled member countries to reach agreement on a new Congress date.”

Mr. Hussein added the COVID-19 pandemic had created exceptional circumstances for all international organizations, but the decision to hold the Congress in Abidjan in 2021 was the right one. The UPU head said the decision would allow the Côte d’Ivoire government—the original 2020 host—another opportunity to hold the high- profile Congress.

The decision was made at an exceptional meeting of the Council of Administration (CA), the body supervising UPU’s work in the four-year period between Congresses, held from 26-27 October. Representatives of the 41 member countries who sit on the CA could attend the meeting held at UPU’s headquarters in Bern, Switzerland either physically or remotely.

During opening remarks, Mr. Hussein said, “I urge [the CA] to be guided by the global pandemic situation; the need to make important decisions to facilitate the continuity of the work of the Union; and the position of the host country, who has consistently confirmed their commitment to host the Congress as soon as conditions permit.”

The CA also agreed to review the progress of the preparation for the Congress in their forthcoming meetings in December and next April. In the event that the CA by 30 June 2021 concludes the event cannot be held at the designated place and dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congress will be moved to Switzerland.

 Background

The UPU’s 27th Universal Postal Congress was set to be held from 10-28 August, 2020 in Abidjan, but was cancelled due to the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the cancelation, a number of CA members requested a meeting of the Council at the UPU headquarters in Berne to deliberate on the way forward. Some CA members and observers were able to physically attend the session at the Union’s headquarters, while others participated remotely, as had been approved by the CA member countries.

The 27th Congress is not the first to be postponed due to exceptional circumstances. The Madrid Congress was postponed from 1912 to 1920 due to the developments leading up to the First World War. Similarly, the Second World War led to the movement of the Paris Congress from 1944 to 1947.

This is also not the first time that the Côte d’Ivoire government has cancelled a Universal Postal Congress. In 1999, during the Beijing Universal Postal Congress, Abidjan won the vote to host the 23rd Congress in 2004. The Congress was, however, later moved to Bucharest after it was felt the situation in Abidjan was unfavorable.

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