Foley Hoag Helps Qatar Secure Unprecedented Resolution at the Universal Postal Union

February 27, 2020

Foley Hoag has helped the State of Qatar (Qatar) secure an unprecedented resolution adopted by the Council of Administration (Council) of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) against the Kingdom of Bahrain (Bahrain), the Arab Republic of Egypt (Egypt), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UPU, one of the oldest international organizations, is the specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates the global postal system.

The vote, which took place at the headquarters of the UPU in Bern, Switzerland, supports the arbitration proceedings that Qatar instituted against Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE under Article 32 of the UPU Constitution on September 20, 2018. The arbitrations arise from the four States’ unlawful and unjustified suspension of postal services with Qatar since June 5, 2017, which has caused significant harm to Qatar, its postal operator, its nationals, and its residents. Although the UPU has called on Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to re-establish direct postal relations with Qatar, none has heeded that call. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have in recent months restored indirect postal services with Qatar, but none of the four States has resumed direct postal services with Qatar. Qatar is pursuing the arbitrations in order to establish the four States’ responsibility for their illegal conduct, to restore direct postal relations with them, and to obtain reparation for all the harm incurred.

For more than a year now, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have attempted to frustrate the arbitration proceedings by refusing to cooperate in the appointment of the third arbitrator of the arbitral tribunals. The UPU has since taken note of their “continued lack of cooperation” in this regard. In this context, Qatar recently proposed a resolution before the Council to strongly urge the UPU’s International Bureau to appoint the third arbitrator in the four arbitrations. The Council, which comprises of member countries of the UPU, adopted the resolution by a vote of 10 to 2.

“This historic vote reflects the firm commitment of the member countries of the UPU to the ideal of international dispute resolution enshrined in the Union's Constitution,” stated partner Constantinos Salonidis, who led Foley Hoag’s legal team in advising Qatar in these proceedings. “This was a tremendous victory not only for Qatar, but for the entire system of international dispute resolution.” Partner Lawrence H. Martin, Co-Chair of Foley Hoag’s International Litigation and Arbitration Department added, “Foley Hoag is very proud to have been able to assist Qatar in taking another step towards vindicating its rights under international law.”

Qatar was represented before the Council by His Excellency Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai, President of Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority, Mr. Faleh Al-Naemi, Chairman and Managing Director of Qatar Postal Services Company, and Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, Dean of Qatar University College of Law and Legal Adviser to His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Qatar was advised by a legal team from Foley Hoag and by Dr. Ioannis Konstantinidis, Assistant Professor at Qatar University College of Law.

In addition to advising Qatar before the Council, Foley Hoag represents Qatar in the underlying UPU arbitrations and three cases before the International Court of Justice brought under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), and the International Air Services Transit Agreement (IASTA). The firm also advises Qatar in two conciliation proceedings under the CERD, and proceedings before the World Trade Organization.

The team of lawyers from Foley Hoag involved in these matters includes partners Constantinos Salonidis and Lawrence H. Martin, special counsel Pierre d’Argent, counsel Christina Beharry and Arsalan Suleman and associates Tracy Roosevelt, Peter Tzeng, Joseph Klingler, Ofilio Mayorga, and Yasmin Al Ameen.