UPU training seminar for the Istanbul Congress chairs & vice-chairs

Statement by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Berne, Switzerland, June 13 2016


Distinguished chairs and vice-chairs of the 26th UPU Congress,

I welcome you to this two-day briefing session to prepare you for the responsibilities of running the activities of the forthcoming Congress.

Let me also congratulate you for having been picked by the UPU membership to play these important roles in the decision-making structures of our Union.

Yours is a position of honour for which you were nominated and selected after careful consideration of your respective country’s consistency, commitment and leadership in many ways during the cycle and in the past.  

The objective of this two-day induction meeting is to brief you on your respective individual and collective roles during the Congress. You will have heavy responsibilities and we hope that this induction session will prepare you well to be able to preside over meetings competently and, as much as possible, guide members to achieve consensus even on difficult topics.

It is my hope we will build a strong team among you that will deliver the 2016 Congress in Istanbul to the satisfaction of all members and the postal industry.

From experience, you will agree with me the success of forums like Congress is determined by the level of preparation and focus of the leadership of the deliberations. You are all very key to the success of the 26th Congress. I have no doubt that you are equal to the challenge before you.

To achieve this, it will be important to have a collective resolve to work as a team and in solidarity. You will be expected to observe neutrality during debates and be guided by the general direction that the Union membership has agreed on.

The CA and POC, supported by the International Bureau, have put in a lot of work during the cycle and have come up with proposals that will be presented to the Congress for decision. Some of you are members of the various Councils’ working structures and you will attest to the enormous work that has been put in the cycle to come up with the various proposals that will be presented to members for decision.

I am also happy to inform you that we have fulfilled all the mandates given to us by the last Congress. We have also developed the vision for the coming cycle, as well as the strategy and working method to fulfill the expectations of members. We believe these strategic blue prints will guide our Union to better face challenges in the current situation as well as the future.

As we move to Congress, we will be faced by proposals that have been developed by our respective Councils, as well as those presented by member countries.

Some of these proposals have already generated substantial heat during discussions at the Councils’ level. We may expect them to elicit similar debates during the Congress. Topics such as IPP, terminal dues, future of the QSF, advanced data exchange (EDA) are some that come to my mind. The reform of the Union is also expected generate some level of debate.

As we prepare for leadership at Congress, it will be important to come up with a collective way of dealing with even these controversial subjects and be on hand to provide best guidance to achieving consensus.

Dear colleagues, objectivity will be key for you as you preside over the many issues before you, some of which your individual countries may have certain passionate positions.

Furthermore, we look forward to seeing the Congress leadership work as a team and in harmony. We must therefore build trust within ourselves before we embark on this huge task. We need to define how we will work together as a team and lay the ground rules on how to tackle difficult or sensitive issues, and, at all times, work towards consensus of members.

The 26th Congress is coming at a time when there is debate as to whether our organization is fit for purpose. Our market has changed a great deal and the logical thing is to also change to adapt to the new environment. We have been warned that unless we change we risk becoming irrelevant. This has been a message handed to us in the last five Congresses and more recently during our strategy meetings in preparations for the Congress.

During this cycle we also held numerous forums where our own members, experts, speakers, leaders, customers and pundits alike warned of the dangers of losing substantial market share unless we adopt change. The designated postal operators are facing unprecedented challenges in the market places as competition eats away their traditional market strongholds.

At the Union level, we need to enhance our decision-making process and address our inefficiencies in order to respond positively and in a timely manner to the needs of our member states.

Colleagues, during the cycle our Councils made many decisions that are aimed at taking this Union forward to prosperity. I expect the membership, in whose behalf the Councils work, will support these proposals. I also expect that members of the Congress committee will in principle be guided by the decisions of the current Councils as a matter of collective responsibility.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, after the end of our Council’s meeting cycle, I have attended a number of regional and sub-regional restricted union members’ meetings that have been called to prepare the various regions for Congress. I am glad to report to you that I have witnessed consensus building in those meetings, and even sensitive topics like the reform of the Union have so far been discussed with sobriety and supported in most of the regions.

It is my hope that we will all work in the same spirit and avoid taking positions that can only result in dividing our Union. I urge you during the next two days to give consideration to risk areas and come up with ways in which we can save our Union from being divided by any divergent issues at Congress.

In case there are areas in which this committee cannot reach consensus, let's flag them for further discussion.

As I conclude my remarks, I wish to assure you that the IB team and myself will give you full support to ensure that your work is well executed now and during Congress.

My team has been working hard to have all documents relating to decisions approved by the Councils finalized and posted on the website for members to access.

The DDG, myself and colleagues at the IB will be on hand for any further consultations that you may require in the course of this meeting.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Thank you.