Over time, religious orders and Universities added their own message delivery systems and eventually, private individuals were allowed to use these messengers in order to communicate with one another.
In these early Postal Systems the Postal charges were generally paid by the recipient. In the seventeenth century the first International Postal treaty was established, consisting of bilateral agreements governing the transit of mail within several European countries.
Two centuries later, the web of bilateral arrangements between countries had become so complex that it began to, impede the rapidly developing trade and commercial sectors.
National Postal reforms started the process of bringing order and simplification to the International Postal Services.
Probably the most important of these took place in England in 1840 under the, leadership of Sir Rowland Hill. Letters were to be prepaid, using a uniform rate of one -’a penny in the domestic service for all letters of a certain weight, regardless of the distance involved.
On the initiative of United States Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, a conference was held in 1863, in Paris, France, to continue the process of postal reform at the international level.
Further attempts to improve the international postal service on the basis of bilateral agreements during the rest of the 1 860s could not keep pace with rapid technological, economic, commercial and cultural developments.
Heinrich Von Stephan, a senior postal official from the North German Confederation, then drew up a plan for an International Postal Union.
At his suggestion, the Swiss Government convened in Berne, from 15 September 1874, a conference which was attended by representatives from twenty two nations. On 9 October, a day now celebrated throughout the world as World Post Day, the Treaty of Berne establishing the General Postal Union was signed.
Membership in the Union grew so quickly that the name was changed in 1878 to ‘Universal Postal Union. The Treaty of Berne succeeded in unifying a conflicting international maze of postal services and regulations into a single postal territory for the reciprocal exchange of letter post items.
It reduced the multitude of rates for mail between the twenty two countries which met in Berne to a single rate for all. Within the single territory, the principle of freedom of transit for letter post items was also guaranteed by all parties.
The barriers and frontiers which had impeded the free flow and growth of international mail had finally been pulled down. Today, by virtue of its mission to promote and develop Communication between the people of the world, the UPU is called upon to play an important leadership role in (promoting the continued revitalization of postal services.
UPU AS A SINGLE UN SPECIALISED AGENCY
The UPU became a specialized agency of the United Nations on 1 July 1948. Since then, its relations and active cooperation with other International bodies have grown and intensified.
The Universal Postal Congress, which brings together plenipotentiaries of all member countries, is the supreme authority of the Union and meets, in principle, every five years.
One of the major accomplishments of Congress held since the first Berne Congress in 1874 has been to allow UPU member countries to develop and integrate new products and services into the international postal network.
The Council of Administration (CA) consists of a Chairman and 40 member countries and meets in principle each year at UPU headquarters in Berne. It ensures the continuity of the Union’s work between Congresses, supervises Union activities and studies regulatory, administrative, legislative and legal issues of interest to the Union.
THE POSTAL OPERATIONS COUNCIL (POO) is the technical and operational body of UPU and consists of 40 elected member countries. It deals with the operational, economic and commercial aspects of international postal services. At its first meeting after each Congress, the POC revises the Detailed Regulations It promotes the introduction of new postal Products by collecting, analyzing and publicizing the results of experiments with new products undertaken by some postal services.
THE INTERNATIONAL BUREAU established by the Treaty of Berne in 1874, is located in Berne and provides Secretariat and support facilities for the UPU’ s bodies. It serves as an organ of liaison, in formation and consultation and promotes technical cooperation among Union members.
It also acts as a clearing house for the settlement of accounts between postal administrations for inter administration charges related to the exchange of postal items and international reply coupons.
The principle of technical cooperation was first introduced into the UPU Constitution at the 1964 Vienna Congress, resulting from the need to provide assistance to the many newly formed countries that had become members of the UPU during the early 1 960s.
Funding for these activities typically came from the UNDP or other international development agencies or was given on a bilateral basis.
Now, however, the major portion of funding for technical cooperation activities comes from the contributions that member countries make to the UPU budget or to a special voluntary fund. One of the principal goals of the Postal Development Action Group (PDAG), a special working group set up within the UPU, is to increase the level of outside financial resources devoted to the reform and modernization of postal services.
Through its efforts, international financial institutions are increasingly aware of the need for investment in the postal sector.
With the rapid growth of competition, alternative forms of Communication and higher customer expectations, they are under constant pressure to make further improvements in the quality of their postal products. With this in mind, each Congress since 1984 has adopted a policy aimed at reinforcing the quality of the International Postal Service.
As updated by the 1994 Seoul Congress, the UPU’s quality of service activities include updating and implementing quality of service standards based on customer needs and expectations monitoring on a permanent basis the quality of mail transportation on a worldwide scale and the effectiveness of the world postal network organizing and promoting field missions aimed at improving quality of service setting up an information and assistance help desk at the International Bureau.
As a way of spreading the use of advanced information technology systems to the postal services of developing countries, the UPU has undertaken a global Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) project.
Through the development of computer applications that facilitate international mail processing and allow the exchange of electronic data with one another, postal services now have the ability to track mail shipments from end to end and to provide customers with tracking information on time certain products like EMS.
There are today a countless number of collectors of postage stamps. However, UPU Congress have set down from time to time guidelines and recommended postage stamp themes that are likely to contribute in a general way to strengthening the bonds of international friendship. Toward this end, the 1989 Washington Congress adopted recommendations regarding a “Philatelic code of ethics for use by UPU member countries”.
The UPU has also undertaken a number of activities designed to promote philately and has established a contact Committee with the major philatelic associations. The United Nations postal administration, created in 1951, regularly issues postage stamps from New York, Geneva and Vienna on behalf of the United Nations.
Both the 1989 Washington and the 1994 Seoul Congress recognized the vital importance of Security as a key factor of success for today’s postal business, Indeed, Postal Security ranks high among the Union’s priorities as part of a global effort to help postal services improve their image, enhance their quality of service and protect their revenue.
In this regard, a special group, the Postal Security Action Group (PSAG), has laid out an intensive work programme up to the end of the 20th century.
CUSTOMER FOCUS AND MARKET DEVELOPMENT
As part of the UPU’s objective of promoting closer ties to postal customers, greater emphasis is now being placed on cooperation with organizations representing some of the major users of international postal services.
Working toward this goal, contact Committees have been established with representatives of the publishing industry and with several Philatelic associations. At the first annual UPU “Customer’s Day” held during the 1996 P00, the doors of the International Bureau were opened to postal customers in order to listen first hand to their concerns regarding the improvement of international postal services.
The UPU has also undertaken a unique project aimed at stimulating the development and growth of direct mail-advertising mail and order fulfillment service throughout the world.
To commemorate 125th Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union Pakistan Post Office is issuing one commemorative postage stamp of denomination of Rs 10 on October 9,1999.