Stamp issues related to ICAO - Predecessors


ICAO topical collection covers forerunners of ICAO, referring to stamps related to inter-governmental meetings or bodies dealing with international civil aviation or air navigation prior to the birth of ICAO in 1944.


Sorted by country

Sorted by date

Cuba - 1928 - Sixth Pan-American Conference

1927 - Russia - First International Air Post Congress

Peru - 1937 - Inter‑American Technical Conference on Aviation

1928 - Cuba - Sixth Pan-American Conference

Russia - 1927 - First International Air Post Congress

1928 - USA - International Conference on Civil Aeronautics

USA - 1928 - International Conference on Civil Aeronautics

1937 - Peru - Inter‑American Technical Conference on Aviation


The first attempt at the international regulation of air navigation was made in 1910 when representatives of 20 European countries held an International Conference on Air Navigation (Conférence internationale de navigation aérienne) in Paris to create an international air law code. A draft Convention was discussed but unanimous agreement on a definitive text could not be reached.


International air transport began in 1919, when the first commercial air service was established between London and Paris. In that year, trans-oceanic flight became a reality with two crossings of the Atlantic Ocean. It soon became clear that there was a need for uniform, universal regulations.


The idea of regulations was again discussed at the Paris Peace Conference held after the Great War of 1914-18. This time, there was complete agreement among the ex-allied States as the respective Governments realised that aviation, which had made great advances during the war, would develop rapidly as a means of international transport. It was therefore agreed to hold an International Conference to lay down the principles of rules for air traffic, which would serve as the basis for uniform international regulations. This action then resulted in the International Air Convention (Paris Convention), which was signed on 13 October 1919 by the representative of each participating country. Thirty-three states, including Australia, became parties to the Paris Convention. This Convention consisted of 43 articles that dealt with all technical, operational and organizational aspects of civil aviation, and the creation of an International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) under the direction of the League of Nations with its headquarters in Paris. ICAN would be set up to monitor developments in civil aviation and to propose measures to States to keep abreast of developments. The Convention contained all of the principles established in the 1910 Paris Conference. Although the USA took an active part in the Paris Conference, it never signed, nor adhered to the subsequent Convention. ICAN entered into effect on 11 July 1922, after a majority of signatory states had ratified the Paris Convention relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation. ICAN is considered as the forerunner of ICAO.


Following the growth of aviation activity in the Americas and as a result of the failure by the USA and most Central and South American States to adhere to the Paris Convention, the Ibero-American Convention (also called the Madrid Convention) was created in 1926, under the auspices of Spain, with Portugal and the States of Latin America; this convention differed from the Paris Convention in that it differently took account of the principle of the equal rights of its members. Ultimately, this Convention had a limited impact because of the restricted number of ratifications that it received; whereas 21 States attended the Conference of Madrid, only 5 States (Spain, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Mexico) deposited their instruments of ratification.


Also, a Pan American Convention on Air Navigation (also called the Havana Convention) was signed in 1928 in Havana, with clauses that largely enabled USA owned airlines to freely operate services within North and South America. Among the principles of the Havana Convention, was the freedom of air passage, but unlike the Paris Convention it made no attempt to develop uniform technical standards, nor was there any provision for periodic discussion on common problems through the agency of a permanent organization. This Pan-American Agreement was a certain success, since, signed by 21 States; it was finally ratified by 16 of them.

In September 1937, an Inter-American Technical Conference on Aviation held in Lima decided on the creation of a Permanent American Aeronautical Commission (Comisión Aeronáutica Permanente Americana, CAPA). But, its organization never materialized.


Although the Paris and Havana Conventions served a useful purpose, they were seen to be no longer adequate for the years after World War II, because of the immense wartime development of aerial transport. There was some readiness to concede that commercial air rights as well as technical and navigational regulations should be governed by international agreement.


Eventually, the Chicago Conference was held at the invitation of the United States, from 1 November to 7 December 1944. The main aims of the conference were to draw up a Convention on International Civil Aviation, to replace those of Paris (1919) and Havana (1928), and to establish a world body as an Agency of the United Nations Organization to oversee civil aviation, to be called the “International Civil Aviation Organization” (ICAO), and to establish a framework for the technical standards to be developed.