The origins of the Asian-Pacific Postal Union (APPU) can be traced back to the 1961 Manila Postal Conference, convened by the Government of the Philippines. For this Conference, representatives from 18 countries were invited to collaboratively draft the Asian-Oceanic Postal Convention. This landmark Convention came into force on 1st April 1962, marking the establishment of the 'Asian-Oceanic Postal Union’ (AOPU).
Over the years, the Union's scope and membership expanded significantly. At the 4th AOPU Congress, held in Yogyakarta in 1981, the organization was renamed as the 'Asian-Pacific Postal Union.' As more countries joined, it has evolved into a prominent 32-member inter-governmental body.
During its initial four decades, the APPU's headquarters were in Manila as a gesture of recognition to the Government of the Philippines for their crucial role in its formation. However, in 2002, the Union's headquarters were relocated to Bangkok. A significant modification in its leadership structure was also subsequently brought about when the position of Director was redesignated as that of the Secretary-General after a decision was made by the APPU Congress in Tehran during 2017.
The Secretary-General now assumes the highest office within the Union and serves for a term of four years. The incumbent of this position is selected by the APPU Congress through an election process, with the option of being re-elected for a maximum of two terms.
The APPU is made up of the three bodies of Congress, Executive Council and APPU Bureau.
Representatives of the member countries of the Union meet in Congress not later than two years after holding of each Universal Postal Congress in order to revise the Acts of the Union, if necessary, and to consider, as necessary, other postal problems of common interest to members.
The Executive Council (EC) comprises all the member-countries of the Union and meets in principle once each year. The functions of the Executive Council are:
- To perform any duty assigned to it by a Resolution of the Congress;
- To lay down international postal service rules which shall provide the necessary details for the operation of the international postal service between the member countries;
- To maintain contacts with postal administrations of member countries to improve the postal service;
- To prescribe rules for the administration of the Bureau and to supervise the activities of the Bureau;
- To review and approve the annual budget and accounts of the administrative section prepared by the Bureau in the intervals between Congresses;
- To make useful contacts with the various organs of the Universal Postal Union, other Restricted Unions or specialized agencies of the United Nations with special interests in the area and to appoint representatives to conference of such organizations;
- To conclude agreements on behalf of the Union with the UPU, other Restricted Unions and international organizations with regard to technical co-operation with the concurrence of at least two-thirds of the members. The Council may authorize the Director of the Bureau to execute such agreements;
- To assemble, prior to each Universal Postal Congress, in order to exchange and harmonize their views; and
- To make necessary steps, with the agreement of the majority of the members of Union, provisionally to carry out such other administrative acts which are not covered by the Acts of the Union and cannot await the next Congress for the settlement.
The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Executive Council are elected by the Executive Council meeting convened immediately after Congress. Usual practice is for chairmanship to devolve to the host country of Congress.
The Bureau serves as a medium of liaison, information, inquiry and training for member countries. The Bureau comprises an administrative section and a training section and is staffed with a Director and such other staff as the Union requires. The Bureau provides the secretariat for meetings of the Union, jointly with the administration of the country where each meeting is held.
The Bureau is under the general supervision of the Executive Council. The Bureau provides training facilities and advisory services in the training section to improve postal services within Asia and the Pacific. This training section is administered by a Governing Board, chaired by the head of the host administration of the Bureau (Thailand).The Governing Board meets at least once each year, usually in the country where the Executive Council meets. The training section is known as the Asian-Pacific Postal College.
The Director of APPU Bureau is chosen by the Executive Council or in Congress year by Congress. The Director of APPU Bureau is its legal representative in all functions performed by the Bureau pursuant to the Acts of the Union and to the decision of Congress of the Union. The Director represents the Union in international conferences where representation is required.