On October 17, 2018, the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. was starting the one-year withdrawal process from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a 145-year-old United Nations organization that regulates global mail delivery. The UPU will meet in late September to consider changes to the organization’s rules and rate structures. The Administration has said that it will remain in the organization if certain changes are adopted. Because the U.S. is required to give one year’s notice before withdrawal, the U.S. could depart as early as mid-October if it decides to do so.
Should the U.S go through with the withdrawal, the Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) will experience—at best—significant interruption, if not outright elimination while the U.S. would have to negotiate new bilateral postal service agreements with other countries. While pouch deliveries will not be affected, DPO deliveries for any Foreign Service personnel at post will likely be impacted. The potential ramifications are obvious to all members of the Foreign Service, particularly when it comes to delivery of medical supplies and medications.
AFSA has raised the possible negative effects of withdrawal on Foreign Service families with senior officials in HR and has been working with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), which is the military equivalent of AFSA, as APO services may be affected as well. While the legal authority to withdraw from the UPU lies with the executive branch, AFSA is also warning Congress of the negative implications DPO interruption or elimination would bring our diplomats.
The A Bureau is well aware of this problem and has been working to mitigate possible challenges and seek alternative solutions. AFSA advises all members to read the recent ALDAC on this issue (19 STATE 76584), as well as any embassy-issued management notices.
AFSA will keep following this and will update members if and when needed. In the meantime, please heed the guidance from the Department of State: Plan to make bulk purchases or crucial supplies early so that your deliveries will reach you before mid-October.
"A threat by Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the global postal system could lead to a 'nightmare scenario' of mail going undelivered, packages piling up and American stamps no longer being recognized abroad, the U.N. postal agency said." https://t.co/svU0XrSI5N
— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) September 24, 2019
The UN postal agency warned of "total disruption" and rising consumer costs if the US delivers on threats to quit the body over complaints about rules Washington claims unfairly benefit China https://t.co/I5evjcTvTW
— AFP news agency (@AFP) September 24, 2019
Postal rates: Why is the US threatening to leave the UN system? https://t.co/yKy77YxE5f
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 24, 2019