History of the Caribbean Postal Union

The idea of setting up a Restricted Postal Union seems to date back to 1969, to the 5th Conference of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Caribbean countries and territories. But the idea took shape in 1977 and was repeatedly discussed at meetings arranged by the UPU in the sub-region. Subsequent UPU sponsored meetings of Postmasters General were held in (1977), Jamaica (1979), Antigua (1986), Georgetown (1988), Bahamas (1994) and St. Lucia (1997). At these meetings regional postal issues were being addressed, as well as the need to set up a restricted union. The Postmasters-General stressed, for instance at the meetings in Antigua (1986) and Georgetown (1988) on the urgent need to set up this Union.

At Government Level a financial agreement was signed in 1997, for technical assistance under the Lome IV Convention: “Establishment of a Caribbean Postal Union. Georgetown (1988) on the urgent need to set up this Union.

Prior to the signing of the agreement however, technical preparation by CARIFORUM for the project had become a financial issue. In those days, a number of objections were delaying the creation of the CPU, particularly the level of financial input from the EU was a focal point. The initial thoughts were that the initial operations of the Union would be part of the project funding but the cost of the project was considered to be too high by some, and eventually EU policy shifted from full support to technical assistance.

Establishment of CPU

When Postmasters General met in St. Lucia in September 1997, the mood and the stage was set to launch the CPU. The financing agreement paved the way for the establishment of the CPU.
Fifteen Caribbean Postal Administrations signed the CPU Convention and Protocols, making CPU operational.
This number surpassed the criteria of one third of eligible members for signing and ratification as indicated in article 16 of the Convention and certifies its entry into force.

The Terms of Reference of CPU

The Financial Agreement states this overall objective for the CPU:
“Improve postal services and revenues in the Caribbean region”.
Article 1.2 of the Convention however, details the following purpose of the CPU:
– Improve the response to customers’ requirements for postal facilities of all kinds;
– To facilitate the improvement and security of postal services;
– Co-ordinate postal training arrangements and postal operational services;
– Promote international postal co-operation in the spirit and observance of the Acts of the Universal Postal Union.

Membership of the Union

It should be recognized that membership of the CPU relates to meetings, as far as 1972 of Postmasters General of the Caribbean Commonwealth Countries. Those meetings addressed various operational issues, of which, mail exchanges between the region and the USA, Canada and the UK was critical. Within the context of the EU-ACP relation, the idea came up to establish a restricted union for addressing developmental issues.
However, under the “Lome IV Agreement”, all ACP parties in the Caribbean region should become beneficiaries in this project which was to be funded by the EU. Subsequently, the Dutch, French and Spanish speaking Caribbean states were taken on board.
Presently 30 English, French, Spanish and Dutch speaking Countries have signed up for membership of the CPU namely; Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, United Kingdom, United States, Virgin Islands.

The Main Functions of the CPU would be:

– to monitor the development and modernization of the postal services in its member countries;

– to draw up a list of priority actions to be taken to improve the operation of the post in relations among its member countries and between them and countries outside the Union and to facilitate mobilization of the means available for that purpose;

– to promote the pooling of human resources and the infrastructures available in member countries;

– to seek the necessary external aid and, in this connection, to approach certain inter-country (UPU, CARICOM/CARIFORUM, etc.) and national bodies providing technical assistance: