Treaty of Bern

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The Treaty of Bern (formally the Treaty concerning the formation of a General Postal Union), signed on 9 October 1874, established the General Postal Union, which is today known as the Universal Postal Union. Named for the Swiss city of Bern, where it was signed, the treaty was the result of an international conference convened by the Swiss Government on 15 September 1874. It was attended by representatives from 22 nations. Plans for the conference had been drawn up by Heinrich von Stephan, Postmaster-General of the German Reichspost.

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The purpose of the treaty was to unify disparate postal services and regulations so that international mail could be exchanged freely. The signatories of the treaty were the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Spain, the United States, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Empire, Serbia, the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, Switzerland, and the Ottoman Empire.

Originally called the General Postal Union, the organization established by the Treaty was renamed the Universal Postal Union in 1878 due to its large membership. World Post Day is now observed on 9 October, recalling the date on which the Treaty was signed.

The Treaty of Bern was amended a number of times after its conclusion. On 10 July 1964, the UPU incorporated the treaty into a new Constitution of the Universal Postal Union, which is now the treaty that is ratified by states when they wish to join the UPU.

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