New York, 19 October 2001
Like all of you in this room, we at ICAO were shocked and saddened by the horrific events of 11 September in NYC and Washington.
In addition to the senseless destruction and the loss of countless innocent lives, the terrorist attacks hit very close to our hearts since they introduced a new and unimaginable dimension to the concept of aviation security. Yes, for the very first time in the history of Civil Aviation aircraft were used as weapons of destruction. A real and present threat to our global civilized society.
This is indeed a totally new threat and one that eventually can touch every citizen of every country on the face of the earth. In the past, hijackers played an often deadly game but we understood and were effective in dealing with it. In essence, they used the aircraft as a vehicle to obtain money, arms, the release of political prisoners, or asylum to another country. There was always the possibility of negotiating with hijackers because they wanted to preserve their own life.
On 11 September, in the space of a few minutes, we were thrown into a new and frightening reality that would forever change the way we look at Aviation Security. We now have a new and awesome enemy, one that is capable to use an aircraft full of innocent people no longer as a vehicle, but as a flying bomb. As a weapon of mass destruction.
This new enemy does not value life as we do and is ready to commit suicide, inflicting great harm and suffering along the way. This new enemy doesn't play by civilized rules, and doesn't respect human lives. But we, we have to.
The enemy is always in the offensive, while we have to be always in the perfect defense. They can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. They have all the resources they may need, and we, at all levels of administration, have to work with ZNG budgets.
Right now you may be thinking " Can we win against such an enemy ? "
Yes we can - and we must!
By coincidence, the ICAO triennial Assembly was to begin on 25 September, just two weeks to the tragic events. In this interval, our Secretariat worked hard and produced a comprehensive WP outlining measures required to understand the new situation and to achieve a better Aviation Security in the very short time, as well as proposals for a new program on AVSEC.
On 5 October, the final day of the Assembly, delegates of a record 169 States, along with representatives of 32 International Aviation Organizations rallied around a resolution that is setting in motion the process aimed at enhancing AVSEC worldwide and restoring the confidence of the traveling public.
The events at 11 September were essentially the result of hijackings. Yes, the intentions were horrendous and the consequences dramatic, but they were nonetheless hijackings. And we must deal with it as successful hijackings. We have to establish a line of defense by preventing potential hijackers from getting on board aircraft. Crises management at 35,000 is not the answer. Not anymore.
Now, I would like to provide you with the highlights of our GA resolution, and the next step in our drive to further improve the AVSEC of the Global Air Transport System.
- At the earliest possible date, before the end of this year, we will hold an international, high-level Ministerial conference, to develop measures for preventing, combating and eradicating acts of terrorism involving Civil Aviation.
- We are, right now, beginning a full review of International Aviation Security Conventions and of all Annexes to the Chicago Convention, including Annex 17 where we have the present SARPs internationally approved on AVSEC.
- We will look at special funding for urgent action by ICAO in the field of AVSEC, as well as more stable funding through increases by States of their voluntary contributions to our AVSEC mechanism.
- Our AVSEC Panel will study the urgent application of the international security standards contained in Annex 17, as reviewed, to domestic flights including, in my views, general aviation and aerial work. We must also strengthen controls for people working at airports and ensure that such controls come under a single national airport authority.
- The AVSEC Panel will study also urgent actions such as reinforced cockpit doors, air marshals, video cameras, biometrics, etc.
The GA directed ICAO to consider the establishment of a Universal Security Oversight Audit Programme, modeled after the highly successful Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP), to assess the implementation of security related Standards. The USOAP consists of regular, mandatory, systematic and harmonized universal safety audits carried out by ICAO in all 187 Contracting States. For the last 3 years we have audit Annexes related to Personal Licensing, Airworthiness and Operations of Aircraft, producing not only reports, but Action Plans, ready to be implemented by the audited Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The GA also approved the expansion of this programme to other Safety related Annexes, as Airports, Air Space Control and to the core of Accident and Incident investigation.
Understanding that the implementation and enforcement of Standards, at the level of the developing States will be a matter of proper funding, the GA endorsed the creation of an International Financial Facility for Aviation Safety, IFFAS, in order to assist States in need of resources, to implement Safety related projects and to correct deficiencies identified through audits or assessment programmes. It is my personal view that, after the Ministerial meeting, the IFFAS will be receiving another S for Security, becoming IFFASS. This Funding Mechanism to support Aviation Security projects will contribute to the overall struggle against terrorist threats.
Having said all of this, I cannot help but think that we need to make a quantum leap in our fight against aviation terrorism, that we must move beyond traditional methods, as good as they may have been in the near past. Because the rules of engagement have changed so much, or have simply disappeared, I think we need to look at creating a new global security culture. This new culture recognizes and will use past achievements, while integrating new approaches like biometrics and seamless communication channels between immigration, police and industry authorities.
We must review hiring and training of security personnel at airports. We must formulate flexible and fool-proof operating standards that keep pace with the tactics and resources of terrorists. To achieve this, we need to tap the brains of world experts in various fields and challenge them to develop the best aviation security systems and procedures science and technology can provide.
Finally, we need to produce, and quick, a strategy and a working plan backed up by the required funding and human resources. To summarize, since 11 September, there have been a number of steps taken, both by individual States and by the International Community working with and through ICAO, to further enhance the level of aviation security worldwide in order to restore the trust in the aviation system of transport.
I personally trust our aviation system as fundamentally safe and secure, but nevertheless, we will be working hard in the coming months to make it even safer and much more secure.