Universal Postal Union

The Universal Postal Union, established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration, the Postal Operations Council and the International Bureau, it oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service cooperatives. Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties; the UPU's headquarters are located in Switzerland. Before the establishment of the UPU, every pair of countries that exchanged mail had to negotiate a postal treaty with each other. In the absence of a treaty providing for direct delivery of letters, senders sometimes resorted to mail forwarders who would transfer the mail through an intermediate country. Negotiations for postal treaties could drag on for years; when Elihu Washburne arrived in Paris in 1869 as the new United States Minister to France, he found "the singular spectacle... of no postal arrangements between two countries connected by so many business and social relations."

At the last grand dinner given by Emperor Napoleon III before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the first topic he discussed with Washburne was the postal treaty. After Napoleon III was defeated at the Battle of Sedan, the United States became the first country to recognize the French Third Republic, an event that brought thousands of Parisians into the street shouting "Vive l'Amérique." However, such sentiments did not lead to the signing of a postal treaty between the United States and France. There would be no relief until the Postal Union was established in 1874. Washburne wrote, "There is no nation in the world more difficult to make treaties with than France."Faced with such difficulties, the United States took the lead in calling for improvements to international mail arrangements. United States Postmaster General Montgomery Blair called for an International Postal Congress in 1863. Meeting in Paris, the delegates laid down some general principles for postal cooperation but failed to come to an agreement.

The task was taken up by the Postmaster-General of the German Reichspost. After defeating Napoleon III in 1870, the North German Confederation and the South German states united to form the German Empire; the Reichspost established a uniform set of postage regulations for the new country. However, the uniformity ended at the German border. Mailing a letter from Berlin to New York required different amounts of postage, depending on which ship carried the letter across the Atlantic Ocean. To bring order to the system of international mail, von Stephan called for another International Postal Congress in 1874. Meeting in Bern, the delegates agreed to all of von Stephan's proposals; the Treaty of Bern was signed on October 9, 1874, establishing what was known as the General Postal Union. The treaty provided that: There should be a uniform flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world Postal authorities should give equal treatment to foreign and domestic mail Each country should retain all money it has collected for international postage.

One important result of the Treaty was that it was no longer necessary to affix postage stamps of countries that a mailpiece passed through in transit. The UPU provides; the Treaty of Bern had been signed by 21 countries. After the General Postal Union was established, its membership grew as other countries joined. At the second Postal Union Congress in 1878, it was renamed the Universal Postal Union. French was the sole official language of the UPU. English was added as a working language in 1994; the majority of the UPU's documents and publications – including its flagship magazine, Union Postale – are available in the United Nations' six official languages French, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish. Toward the end of the 19th century, the UPU issued rules concerning stamp design, intended to ensure maximum efficiency in handling international mail. One rule specified that stamp values be given in numerals, as denominations written out in letters were not universally comprehensible. Another required member nations to use the same colors on their stamps issued for post cards, normal letters and international mail, a system that remained in use for several decades.

After the foundation of the United Nations, the UPU became a specialized agency of the UN in 1948. It is the third oldest international organization after the Rhine Commission and the International Telecommunication Union; the 1874 treaty provided for the originating country to keep all of the postage revenue, without compensating the destination country for delivery. The idea was that each letter would generate a reply, so the postal flows would be in balance. However, other classes of mail had imbalanced flows. In 1906, the Italian postal service was delivering 325,000 periodicals mailed from other countries to Italy, while Italian publishers were mailing no periodicals to other countries; the system encouraged countries to remail through another country, forcing the intermediate postal service to bear the costs of transport to the final destination. Remailing was banned in 1924, but the UPU took no action on imbalanced flows until 1969; the problem of imbalanced flows became acute after decolonization, as dozens of former European colonies entered the UPU as independent states.

The developing countries received more mail than they sent, so they wanted to be paid for delivery. In 1969, the UPU introduced a system of terminal dues; when two countri

Gendarmerie (Belgium)

The Gendarmerie or Rijkswacht was the former paramilitary police force of Belgium. It became a civilian police organisation in 1992, a status it retained until 1 January 2001, when it was, together with the other existing police forces in Belgium and replaced by the Federal Police and the Local Police; the word gendarme comes from Old French gens d'armes, meaning men-at-arms, whereas the Dutch name, means guard of the realm. In 1795, the Belgian provinces came under French rule, it was at this time. This military force had been created a short time before in France itself to replace the Marechaussee of the former monarchy; the legislation which organised the new gendarmerie service in Belgium was a law dated April 17, 1798, which remained in force until 1957. In 1815, the Belgian provinces became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, ruled by King William I; the Dutch reorganised the force. In 1830 the Belgian Revolution occurred. After obtaining its independence, the new Belgian state created its own national Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie on the basis of the existing constabulary.

The Rijkswachters/Gendarmes operated throughout the country. From its creation, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was formally part of the Belgian Army; the major strikes and tense social conditions of the 1930s brought important changes in the organization of the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie, in particular through the expansion of the mobile units created in 1913. During the Second World War, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was restricted to the role of administrative and legal police force concerned with road traffic; the majority of the Rijkswachters/Gendarmes refused to collaborate with the German occupiers. It is believed; these actions were not tolerated by the occupation authorities and from 1942 onwards the corps was deprived of many of its functions. After the war, the service was reorganized. New units were created, at the end of 1957, new legislation relating to the fundamental role of the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was passed, envisaged in the Constitution of 1830; this law confirmed the functions of the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie and its independence from the administrative authorities.

The Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was separated from the Belgian Army Territorial Defense Force, became a fourth department within the military. The Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was authorised to create its own training establishments. During the 1960s conditions of service improved considerably; this period saw a major increase in serious crimes. The Central Bureau of Investigations was created, as well as a centralized radio network. Tracker dogs were employed for the first time. During the 1980s, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie suffered serious problems. Much of its equipment was outdated, it was understrength, there were serious financial issues, it was the period of fighting communist cells and deadly criminal activities by gangs and hooliganism. Several parliamentary commissions blamed the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie for poor investigations and law enforcement work in these cases; the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was threatened with disbandment, drastic measures were taken to reorganise several units and to improve public relations.

On 1 January 1992, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie lost its formal military status, resulting in major changes in policies and staff regulation. Demilitarisation allowed the force to concentrate all its resources on civilian police work, its military functions, as well as the supervision of the Ministry of Defence, were removed. This restructuring occurred after the'black' 1980s of the Nijvel gang, Heysel Stadium disaster, Cellules Communistes Combattantes, other criminal and terrorist activity, against which the Gendarmerie was deemed ineffective. At the end of the 1990s, following adverse reports arising from the Dutroux Affair, the Belgian government decided to dissolve the existing police forces; the parliamentary commission, which investigated the errors that were made during the search for the missing children, stated that the three police organisations did not work and efficiently together. There were problems with cooperation and vital information was not exchanged. Parliament, both the majority and the opposition, decided to abolish the existing structures, created a new police organisation, structured in two departments: the Federal Police and the Local Police.

In 2001, the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie was dissolved. The ranks of the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie were: Senior and general officer ranks Luitenant-generaal/lieutenant-général - lieutenant general Generaal-majoor/général-major - major general Kolonel/colonel - colonel Luitenant-kolonel/lieutenant-colonel - lieutenant colonel Majoor/major - majorLower officer ranks Kapitein-commandant/capitaine-commandant - captain-commandant Kapitein/capitaine - captain Luitenant/lieutenant - lieutenant Onderluitenant/sous-lieutenant - sub-lieutenantHigher petty officer ranks Adjutant-chef Adjutant 1ste opperwachtmeester/1é maréchal des logis-chef - 1st chief sergeant Opperwachtmeester/maréchal des logis-chef - chief sergeantPetty officer ranks 1ste wachtmeester/1é maréchal des logis - 1st sergeant Wachtmeester/maréchal des logis - sergeantRanks in training Brigadier/brigadeer - senior constable Rijkswachter/gendarme - constable During much of its history the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie wore a dist


Øksnes is a municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is located on the northwestern part of the large island of Langøya, a part of the traditional region of Vesterålen; the administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Myre. Other villages in Øksnes include Alsvåg, Breidstrand, Strengelvåg, Stø; the 320-square-kilometre municipality is the 266th largest by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway. Øksnes is the 217th most populous municipality in Norway with a population of 4,541. The municipality's population density is 14.6 inhabitants per square kilometre and its population has increased by 2.6% over the last decade. The municipality of Øksnes was established on 1 January 1838. On 1 January 1866, a small area of southern Øksnes was transferred to the neighboring Bø Municipality. On 1 July 1919, the northeastern part of Øksnes along the Gavlfjorden was separated to form the new Langenes Municipality; this left Øksnes with 2,296 residents. During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway due to the work of the Schei Committee.

On 1 January 1964, the Krakberget area and the part of Øksnes on the peninsula north of Krakberget was transferred to the neighboring municipality of Bø. On the same date the municipality of Langenes was merged with Øksnes. Prior to the merger, Øksnes had 3,112 residents and Langenes had 2,037 residents; the municipality is named after the old Øksnes farm. The first element is an old name of Skogsøya island and the last element is nes which means "headland"; the old name of the island is identical with the word yxn. The mountains of the island have maybe been compared with a group of oxen; the coat of arms is from modern times. The arms show two black fishing hooks on a gold background, appropriate symbols for a municipality, dependent on fishing and sailing; the Church of Norway has one parish within the municipality of Øksnes. It is part of the Vesterålen prosti in the Diocese of Sør-Hålogaland. Øksnes municipality encompasses the northwestern part of the island of Langøya in the Vesterålen archipelago.

It includes many small islands around there including the islands of Anden, Dyrøya, Nærøya, Skogsøya, Tindsøya. The Gavlfjorden flows along the northeastern part of the boundary with Andøy Municipality on the other side; the southeastern part of Øksnes borders Sortland Municipality and the southwestern part borders Bø Municipality. The rest of the municipality borders the Norwegian Sea; the municipality is quite rugged with the exception of the area east of Myre, flat and marshy. The large lake Alsvågvatnet lies near this flat area, just east of the village of Alsvåg; this flat area lies just to the north of the large mountain Snøkolla. The Anda Lighthouse is located on the tiny island of Anden. All municipalities in Norway, including Øksnes, are responsible for primary education, outpatient health services, senior citizen services and other social services, economic development, municipal roads; the municipality is governed by a municipal council of elected representatives, which in turn elect a mayor.

The municipality falls under the Hålogaland Court of Appeal. The municipal council of Øksnes is made up of 21 representatives that are elected to four year terms; the party breakdown of the council is as follows: Municipal fact sheet from Statistics Norway Nordland travel guide from Wikivoyage