Forum on UPU Reform

Opening speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Berne, Switzerland, 2 November 2015

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you this afternoon for a forum that most of us have eagerly been waiting for to discuss: Reform of the UPU.

This is a subject very dear to my heart for two reasons; One, because for far too long members and our collaborators have been asking for the reform of the Union to address challenges brought about by the changes in the industry.

And, secondly, because, as the person in charge of running the International Bureau, I am convinced of the need for change so as to bring about more efficiency in the working of the Union and its organs.

The past five Congresses; Seoul, Beijing, Bucharest, Geneva and Doha all had Reform of the Union as an agenda item for discussion and decision.

After consideration of this proposal, all the five Congresses respectively recommended for more studies to be carried out on the subject. These recommendations are contained in Resolutions C 59/1994, C 109 & C 110/1999, C 54/2004, C 16/2008 and C 26/2012.

Interestingly, the 1994 Congress had decreed the reform agenda to be taken as a matter of priority. That was over 20 years ago. Change has eluded us that long.

We all appreciate change is always difficult to achieve. Many times we don’t work for change; rather it is change that forces us to change. Indeed, it is said that everyone wants to see change but no one is willing to change.

Our own members and partners have referred to the Post as a “sleeping beauty” and cautioned us to embrace change lest we become an “industry of left-overs”. We have a duty and responsibility to pull ourselves out of this situation.

We all appreciate the changes that have taken place in our industry and how much this has affected our business.

Our traditional product lines can no longer be relied upon to sustain our businesses, let a lot earn profit.

The most profitable Posts today all have one things in common: They have focused on new products and services as the main areas of investment, growth and profitability. A Post that is not focusing on new markets clearly has no future, and we all agree to this.

My proposal is that we cannot have proper reform of the industry without reforming the decision making structure of our Union. Presently, most postal entities are way ahead of the UPU in modernity.

A recent assessment carried on UPU listed “Role and Relevance” as the biggest risk that our Union faces. Unless we change the way we do things in the Union, sooner than later we will be faced with a relevance crisis.

I am convinced that we all appreciate that our Union requires to be reformed; and we have known this for a long time. That is why we have sustained the subject of reforms in all our forums.

Yet, we haven’t changed much. Today we have a good opportunity to share views, analyze our situation and propose ways in which we should transform the Union to continue offering value to our members and the industry.

Let us reflect purposefully and look for best ways to transform this organization. As I conclude, I wish to point out that the best way to address change is to take control of the process.

Those who wait to play catch up after change has taken place almost always find themselves doing so too late and have to give way.

I urge us to take charge of the change process in the Union and in our industry while we still have the time to do so.

I wish you fruitful deliberations. Thank you for your attention.