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Bob, in country A, sends Alice, living in country B (one of the most corrupt countries in the world) a gift by air mail: some non-prohibited good stuff of a total weight 10 kg which will make Alice very happy. The customs declaration/consignment note lists all items/weights diligently. The parcel is insured — Bob will get compensated by country A's post if something goes wrong.

The tracking shows that when the parcel left country A it was still 10 kg. But the very first record in country B (at the customs) shows now only 5 kg. There are no tracking events while in transit between A and B.

Alice, upon receiving the parcel, demands that it is weighed, opened and the contents are documented on an official report. This is done and now she has legal proof of the loss.

Now, whereas the items could have been stolen anywhere in transit between A and B, there is a pattern of incidents like this occurring in B. Allegedly, and according to some insider's info, the corrupt customs of B feel free to open parcels, take whatever they like without an official record, and then weight and register the incoming parcel.

Bob files a claim with A's post and gets his compensation.

As for a member of the Universal Postal Union, what repercussions will occur for country B? Are they allowed to keep stealing stuff at the sender insurer's expense? Will they face any penalties (e.g. banned from the Union) that would encourage them to hold their customs to account?

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As for a member of the Universal Postal Union, what repercussions will occur for country B?

None.

Are they allowed to keep stealing stuff at the sender insurer's expense?

Well, country B isn't stealing stuff. Bad actors in the employe of country B are stealing stuff. This is a matter for law enforcement in country B. If country B is endemically corrupt as seems to be implied, then it is likely that the bad actors will continue to be bad actors.

As for the insurer, they are in the business of selling insurance against theft (among other things) and they will take this into account in setting their premiums.

Will they face any penalties (e.g. banned from the Union) that would encourage them to hold their customs to account?

All member countries of the UN are entitled to be members of the UPU and it seems unlikely that such minor issues could lead to expulsion from the UN - nation-states that have committed genocide are still UN members after all.

Since the UPU appears to produce more upsides than downsides, being one of, if not the single most successful and universally adopted international treaty in history this is just one of the minor annoyances.

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  • In theory, if the insurer can identify the thief, they could sue them to recover their losses. In practice the insurer is more likely to just eat it. – Nate Eldredge Mar 11 at 4:01

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