Statement of the Deputy Director General at the breakfast celebrating the 145th Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union, 2019

Statement of the UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz at the breakfast celebrating the 145th Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union, Berne, Switzerland, 9 October 2019

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I want to thank you for attending this breakfast celebrating 145 years in the life of the Universal Postal Union.

Please also allow me to offer my sincerest regrets regarding our Director General, who unfortunately is unable to be with us today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Although the Universal Postal Union has existed for 145 years, the distribution of messages has existed much, much longer.

Letters were sent in antiquity and mentioned in Homer’s Iliad.

Herodotus used letters in his stories.

Given these connections, it is little wonder that an enduring symbol of the Universal Postal Union is the winged messenger Pegasus, which adorns our offices in Berne.

But it was not just ancient Greece.

Ancient India used letters, as well as Egypt and letters were sent across China and Rome. 

Various materials were used for these letters, including tree bark, pottery fragments, metal, lead, animal skin and papyrus.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The story of the mail is one of constant change, of revolution, not simply evolution.

Over the centuries communications have varied, embracing telegraph, telex and fax and now Internet and email, but the Post has been a constant. 

The UPU and the post have always adapted and embraced new technologies.  

We adapted when horses gave way to motorized vehicles;

We adapted, when sorting by hand gave way to automated sorting machines;

We adapted when handwritten ledgers gave way to computers.

We have stood the test of time and the numerous tests of our industry.

Throughout all of these changes, we have remained relevant.

Today, we are helping Posts to redefine themselves in the age of the digital economy and the e-commerce world.

Due to our numerous projects and programmes, we are assisting both developed and developing countries

We are assisting in these efforts through the delivery of numerous projects and programmes that help both developed and developing countries.

Project and programs such as .Post, or Ecom@Africa, or our Global Monitoring System or OSCAR that enables postal operators to calculate and analyze their carbon footprints.

Projects such as EMS, offering an express mail service around the world, or our world beating postal technology centre that is busily creating new tools and services for postal operators. 

As a UN specialized agency we also ensuring that the postal network is recognized as an engine for development.

Indeed, the theme of this year’s World Post Day is “delivering development” as it captures our ceaseless search to find new and innovative ways to deliver value to the international postal network. 

The theme also reinforces the UPU’s role and relevance; and highlights the close links between the UPU and the wider UN family, including global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.   

On our 145th birthday, these and many more activities are a cause for celebration.

And, ladies and gentlemen, we have come to the right place for our celebrations.

This is where it all began.

The birthplace of the Universal Postal Union.

The birthplace of the international postal network. 

The place where 22 founding members, who signed the Treaty of Berne, created an agreement that has, quite literally, and I say this in all modesty, benefited the entire world. 


Because the Treaty began the creation of an international postal network and a universal service  obligation that helped ensure the right of every person on this planet to receive mail.   

Without the treaty and the 170 other members who followed, we would not have the postal network of today.

A network spanning hundreds of thousands of post offices, employing millions of staff and delivering billions of letter mail. 

Allow me to read the names of those countries, including those that could not be present today: 

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America.

On behalf of the Universal Postal Union, I want to offer my profound thanks to every country that signed the treaty back in 1874. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Honoured Guests,

I know that it was the Universal Postal Union that invited you to this breakfast, but I want you to know that the true nature of our relationship is one of service to you.

The Universal Postal Union is the servant of multilateralism, we flourish because of it and the international law that enables us to provide a truly invaluable service.

None of this would be possible without the continuing desire of countries to support and promote multilateral approaches where a global responses are needed.

So thank you for being here today, thank you for your support of the UPU and thank you for your continued support of the unity of nations.