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Postal global standard

A decision of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to make its security standards mandatory for its 192 member countries has been welcomed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Thereby the UPU is establishing a legal basis for the provision of advance electronic data on postal items to Customs and aviation security authorities.

Outcomes of the UPU’s 25th Congress, in 2012, in Qatar from November 7 to 11, were presented by a representative of the UPU’s International Bureau in Bern, Switzerland to delegates attending the 197th and 198th Sessions of the WCO’s Permanent Technical Committee, responsible for trade facilitation and security procedures.

According to the WCO, the UPU’s decision will greatly facilitate ongoing efforts by the Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the UPU to bolster the international supply chain by securing the air cargo sector, following attempts by terrorists in Yemen to comprise aviation security in 2010.

WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, said: “This forward-thinking decision by the UPU will significantly contribute to global aviation security. It is a clear demonstration of the UPU’s commitment to enhance trade security using a risk management approach, as embodied in the WCO Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global trade. The lack of quality information for Customs risk purposes has been a matter of concern to the WCO and its 179 Members for a long time, however now that the Post will provide advance electronic data to Customs, targeting efforts by Customs to ensure the security of trade and root out illicit trade have been vastly improved.”

To move on the decision, the UPU is developing a global model to send advance data to Customs, other border regulatory agencies and airlines, in a manner and according to a timetable relevant to security needs, thereby enabling the prior examination of a consignment’s security status by concerned authorities and the airline industry.

The Secretary General strongly urged Customs administrations and postal services to cooperate at the national level in order to ensure the integrity and security of post, which will help to eliminate the possibilities of “criminal entrepreneurs” and others from using the postal network to send illicit goods, including dangerous and prohibited goods, around the world.

These standards seek to force Posts worldwide to apply measures to better screen international mail and take custody of it. Posts would have to apply minimum security standards to critical facilities in their network, such as international offices of mail exchanges, which process arriving and departing international mail.

According to UPU’s David Bowers, speaking before the congress, the standards would establish a security baseline to the global postal network, thus reassuring civil aviation and customs organizations that international mail has gone through minimum screening measures.

“Our goal is to harmonise our international standards with the ones developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization to guide air transportation of mail,” says Bowers.

The new standards are the result of two years of work by the UPU’s inter-committee on security group. It includes representatives from UPU member countries and international bodies, such as the International Air Transport Association, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Customs Organization and the United States Transport Security Agency, among others.

The UPU set up the group to tighten security standards for the global postal supply chain after United States’ TSA screening measures were unilaterally applied to international mail travelling to the USA in late 2010 after two packages containing bombs were found on private courier flights destined for the United States. The packages, sent from Yemen, were intercepted in Dubai and East Midlands airport in the UK.

The UPU sought to come up with standardized security standards for the global postal supply chain to increase the security of mail travelling by air. Member countries had adopted recommended security standards at the last Universal Postal Congress in Geneva in 2008, but there was no obligation to take them up.


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